Brian Lubega, Co-Founder of IG Protect on Making Social Media a Safer Place
Every year, tens of thousands of people are victims of social media scams in the United States alone. Often, these scams start in social media platform comment sections. Brian Lubega, Co-Founder of IG Protect, shares his experience developing software to make social media a more welcoming experience for all.
Who is Brian Lubega?
Brian Lubega is a Canadian citizen who has been living and working abroad in Europe and Germany for the last six years. Brian has a background in business administration, is an active social media user, and has a business partner who owns a web development agency.
“We [Brian and his business partner] have constantly been looking for problems that we could solve and one area that kept coming up was this whole topic of all of the different crises around social media from misinformation to hate speech to cyber scams and the big bot problem.”
The Growing Fight Against Social Media Scammers
Brian shares, “At the beginning of this year, the federal trade commission in the U.S. released a report showing that social media scams on different social networked had more than doubled year to year, so from 2020 to 2021.”
This study showed that victims in the U.S. alone went from 40,000 to 90,000 between those two years. Brian notes that the money the victims lost totaled over 717 million per year, which was his final push to find a way to limit social media scamming.
He started by looking at where the scams are often shared: social media influencers’ comment sections.
“You go to the comment section [and are met with] a lot of inappropriate comments. You see hateful comments. You see a lot of bad comments trying to link you to external sites where you can get scammed.”
Brian’s company IG Protect helps brands and influencers address this problem by automating their comment moderation efforts. Without software to manage comments, big brands and influencers can feel like they need to be on their phones 24/7 to address and delete spam comments.
However, IG Protect creates a firewall between an influencer or brand’s comment section and users. The system runs comments through a check that analyzes whether the comment is appropriate, safe, promoting a scam, etc.
“If you’re a micro-influencer and your average post is getting 20 to 30 comments, you can probably moderate that yourself, but if you’re a larger brand… and you’re getting thousands of comments, then you would need an army to basically moderate those comments.”
Having an “army” to manage your comments is not the most effective management tactic, especially when it comes to time and money. So, Brian and his business partner developed IG Protect to solve this problem for brands and influencers.
How Does IG Protect Work?
Brian explains that IG Protect has a simple process that connects your Instagram account to the IG Protect platform.
“We use two-factor authentication to ensure that the account being connected to our platform is actually owned by that person, and once that is done, then basically our platform goes through and pulls your most recent posts and comments.”
IG Protect users have access to a centralized dashboard that will show comments coming in. When reviewing your comments, you can flag bots, and IG Protect will prevent that bot from commenting on your account.
In addition to this, IG Protect’s network will share bot information with other users receiving comments from the same bot.
For example, “If that [flagged] bot then posts to anyone [else]… It would automatically be flagged as a bot as well, too, so you have this network effect where if one user finds a bot, it really amplifies it across the entire network that we have.”
Currently, IG Protect is the only software of its kind. Some social media platforms, like Instagram, have settings where you can filter comments.
However, “It’s not as clean, and you really have to dive deep into the app, but you can actually do a lot of dysfunctionality within the Instagram app.”
YouTube also recently began offering an experimental comment moderation service, which shows the seriousness of the problem since so many platforms have started putting in moderation efforts.
However, “they [the social media platforms] are spread thing because there are other priorities for them, and so I think what makes us stand out is that we’re not building this for one platform.”
Brian shares, “the idea is to build this for all platforms so that you have one central place to moderate all of your engagement with your comments.”
Another feature of IG Protect that social media platforms don’t offer is the ability to add keywords and emojis you want to block and filter in your comments.
This can help with cyberbullying that the influencer may personally face.
“Let’s just use the example of a plus-sized model. You know, who’s probably going to get some hate from some people who don’t like that… She can set keywords that she knows these people would be coming after her with.”
Marketing IG Protect
When asked about their marketing strategy, Brian shares that they began by looking within their existing networks for people working for influencer marketing agencies. Secondly, they used traditional marketing strategies, like sales funnels and generating strong leads.
“When we find them [marketing agencies], we really take our time to craft personalized outreach to them, to not even sell them on the problem, but just to ask them what their thoughts on the problem are.”
Brian notes that he thinks this approach will help them reach their quarter two goals by the end of June.
In terms of their target audience, Brian explains that “if you have on average more than 50 comments being posted to your average post, I think this would already provide value for you.”
Of course, this service is also ideal for social media managers for larger organizations, marketing agencies, and large brands.
IG Protect just had its big launch, and Brian notes that he is excited to receive more feedback and continue adding new features to the platform.
“The next core feature that we’re going to be adding is actually a raffle management system where basically our software would be able to, based on whatever rules you set for people to enter the contest, go through [and] read all the comments, [then] do a magical draw and pick a winner out.”
Another big goal Brian shared was integrating IG Protect with more social media platforms so that users can use IG Protect to manage all their accounts’ comments in one central location.
“Our ultimate goal actually here is that it makes social media a more welcoming and safe space for brands, influencers, and their followers… and we hope that this also actually puts pressure onto the platforms to invest further in this area… We just want social media to be a safer space for everyone.”
IG Protect is currently a startup in its early stages. Brian and his team are continuing to develop this product while working closely with their early customers. So, if you have any feedback, they would love to hear it. Learn more or schedule a product walkthrough to see the product in-depth on their website.