I knew something was up when my Instagram feed was flooded with posts from friends giving a shoutout to "@Delta_giveaways" on Sunday evening.
According to the account's profile page, Delta was giving away free one-way flights to the first 15,000 people to tag them on the site ("Just in time for the holidays!").
I found at least four other airlines offering simliar promotions, including American Airlines (@americanairlines_giveaways); United (@united_giveaways); JetBlue (@jetbluegiveaways), and Delta, (@delta_giveaways).
Too bad the whole thing is a hoax.
Some of the accounts appear to have been removed by Instagram, b ut it looks like it's too little too late. There are already three copycat profiles for JetBlue and another for Delta "giveaways" that has 16,000 followers to date.
Whether it was a prank that spun out of control or not, there's no telling how much trouble this might spell for airlines in the future.
"It's unclear why these accounts were set up and what the people behind them ultimately hoped to achieve," says CNET's Roger Cheng. "The promise of free flights could lead to headaches for the airlines as duped followers attempt to collect on their reward."
Whether Instagram is capable of identifying and shutting down all of the rogue accounts is unclear. A company spokesperson hasn't yet returned a request for comment.
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