Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fake Twitter Followers Becomes Multimillion Dollar Business

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the buying-friends dept.

Twitter 54

RougeFemme writes "There are more than two dozen companies that sell fake Twitter accounts. Those that sell them claim to make up to one million dollars per week. Two Italian security researchers estimate that there are as many as 20 million fake Twitter follower accounts. It's very difficult to tell the different between fake and real Twitter accounts saying, 'Some fake accounts look even better than real accounts do.'"

cancel ×

54 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

*Gasp* Social Media is overrated (5, Funny)

Anon, Not Coward D (2797805) | about a year ago | (#43391183)

News at 11

Re:*Gasp* Social Media is overrated (1)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about a year ago | (#43391315)

certain not the first time something like this has happened.

I'm more surprised it took so long to be uncovered.

Re:*Gasp* Social Media is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43394379)

What's the hashtag for that?

Better Twitter Accounts... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391201)

"Some fake accounts look even better than real accounts do."

Well thank god for that. http://xkcd.com/810/

Re:Better Twitter Accounts... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43403449)

I'll bet this is a bot. Pulls random quote from the summary, follows with generic witty one-liner, then links to xkcd.com, well known source of slashdot pseudo-wisdom.

Only 20 million? (3, Interesting)

uberbrainchild (2860711) | about a year ago | (#43391213)

I would have thought there would be more. I have 6 or 7 accounts but they represent either a website or sometimes a business. Only one with my name.

Re:Only 20 million? (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43391353)

Also on the idea that sometimes the fakes look better than the real ones. Completely believable. There's a lot of accounts out there that are only created as placeholders. I have a few myself that I created for different domain names I own. Better to create the account and not use it than have the name not available if you decide to use it. It costs nothing to do this, so it makes sense to just create a few accounts for interesting names that you might want to use in the future.

WHO KNEW! (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43391811)

There's a lot of accounts out there that are only created as placeholders. I have a few myself that I created for different domain names I own.

And there lies the truth about Twitter: For the most part, Twitter is now simply an extension of commercial branding, as in "Nothing To See" and "Nothing Of Value Was Lost"... I mean, if you're really interested in reading Justin Bieber's latest drama in 140 chars... Twitter is now (and has been for some time) simply an extension of the corporate promotion game.

As such, does it really matter how many Twitter Twaddle Accounts are fake? Most people who follow Twitter Twaddle are "fake" in more ways than one.

Re:WHO KNEW! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43392979)

"And there lies the truth about Twitter: For the most part, Twitter is now simply an extension of commercial branding, as in "Nothing To See" and "Nothing Of Value Was Lost"... I mean, if you're really interested in reading Justin Bieber's latest drama in 140 chars... Twitter is now (and has been for some time) simply an extension of the corporate promotion game."

If you really think so, you're doing it wrong.

Re:WHO KNEW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43394085)

Search engines are using social signals more and more to rank pages. This is a potential route to quickly promoting a spammy page.

Re:WHO KNEW! (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about a year ago | (#43396401)

Search engines are using social signals more and more to rank pages.

Which is why search engine result quality has been steadily going to shit for a while now.

Re:WHO KNEW! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43397251)

If you really think so, you're doing it wrong.

I'll bet you're one of these morons who are surgically mated to their Smart Phones...

Re:WHO KNEW! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43402709)

"I'll bet you're one of these morons who are surgically mated to their Smart Phones..."

You would lose that bet.

Re:WHO KNEW! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43418451)

You would lose that bet.

I don't think so.

Re:WHO KNEW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43395311)

It can also be used like some sort of RSS feed for things you do find useful (but are extremely brief).

As all tools, it's how you use it.

Re:Only 20 million? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43393017)

"I would have thought there would be more. I have 6 or 7 accounts but they represent either a website or sometimes a business. Only one with my name."

The 20 million "fake" accounts they're referring to aren't "placeholder" accounts or alternative accounts such as you describe. They're literally fake accounts, used for the sole purpose of inflating somebody's number of followers.

And if you ask me, making use of such a "service" is pretty pathetic.

Oh Noes! (5, Insightful)

schivvers (823289) | about a year ago | (#43391229)

Irrelevant things are not relevant! Why was/is so much stock placed on the number of "followers" a person has? It seems as though this places unwarranted weight/emphasis on opinions and people that shouldn't really have that. (Read this as Ms. Jenny McCarthy ranting about vaccinations being taken as relevant to a real discussion on health care.)

Re:Oh Noes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391323)

With the clear disclaimer that I've never had or will have a Twitter account (but do have an identi.ca one) as far as I know the more followers one has the more "trending" they can be and thus show up in more searches and lists. A shitty system to be sure, but simple and sensible on paper. Too bad the implementation is easily gamed.

Re:Oh Noes! (1)

schivvers (823289) | about a year ago | (#43392475)

I don't think that placing value on ones "trending" is a sensible solution. I do not believe that all things in life should be, or can be, for that matter, decided by a popularity contest. Unfortunately the idea that because a lot of people hear a thing, or follow a thing, or even like a thing, this thing becomes absolutely important or relevant to real discussions on a topic is a little off kilter.

It's a variant on peer pressure. (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about a year ago | (#43392639)

Some (MANY!) people are more concerned with social acceptance than self-determination.

Politicians and news media use this to "lead" them by creating the illusion that other people are thinking or doing what the "leaders" want them to think or do, with the implied threat of ostracization and loss of social-network support if they fail to conform.

The progressive movement as a whole, political factions on most parts of the political map, ethnic groups and other "communities", and religions (mainstream and "cult") are particularly noted for this.

Twitter is what it was intended to be. (3, Interesting)

Molochi (555357) | about a year ago | (#43394343)

The Facespaces evolved into an ad serving vehicle for corporations, but they still serve as a point of casual contact for people you know.

VERY early on, like when it was in beta still, Twitter was being commented on by people who were already very famous and popular and who really should not have heard of it yet unless they were insiders involved its creation.

Twitter was created purely as a way to serve "recomendations" to fans of famous people. "I'm reading book X." "I'm listening to song Y" "My cantidate is Senator Blarginsworth" "My favorite thing is...". IF they (the twitterers) get paid to post a specific recommendation then it stands that they'd get paid more if they have more followers. Fake followers seem like a high value scam of the system since the only work that needs to be done is creating the account and following people that pay for it. Those same companies that do SEO and Social Media Marketing have to put a lot more work when they blogspam and shill on forums.

Twitter as a commodity (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | about a year ago | (#43391255)

Please someone explain how Twitter is a commodity. It it like *bitcoin* ?

Re:Twitter as a commodity (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43391449)

Twitter followers, like Facebook friends and similar sorts of social media, fool people into thinking that something is popular. A lot of the people who are fooled into thinking that something is popular are also gullible enough to think that because something is popular it must be good, and thus start buying the product / voting for the candidate / publicly praising the organization.

The people who hire companies like this see the world as a game of hype, illusion, and fakery with the goal of having the next "Gagnam Style".

Re:Twitter as a commodity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43392225)

whats "Gagnam Style"?

Re:Twitter as a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43392797)

It's similar to "Gingham Style", but more sickening.

Re:Twitter as a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43396239)

whats "Gagnam Style"?

Thank god. We've found the last person that is unaware of social media and doesn't know what youtube is.

FINALLY we have a control, err, group for researching how it impacts lives and influences decisions.

Re:Twitter as a commodity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43393629)

To be fair to these poor gullible souls it's part of human nature.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof

The "why" that the article misses... (5, Interesting)

meowgoesthecat (2872191) | about a year ago | (#43391263)

One of the comments on the article was more informative to me than the article alone...

"...When I needed to get people to pay attention to something quickly, I created a twitter account, paid for 30,000 followers, and then followed about 1000 people I had identified as having mattered. In return over the next two days roughly 400 of those "people who mattered" had followed me -- in part I am sure because my Twitter account said it had over 10,000 followers.

Over the next two weeks Twitter killed off all of the fake followers BUT I retained the real followers who might not have paid any attention EXCEPT for the initial batch of fake followers.

It is NOT about spam. It is about purchasing "legitimacy" quickly."


You're welcome.

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (1)

c (8461) | about a year ago | (#43391847)

"In return over the next two days roughly 400 of those "people who mattered" had followed me -- in part I am sure because my Twitter account said it had over 10,000 followers."

So... we're talking about people who think "people who mattered" are those who follow Twitter feeds mostly because of follower counts?

Um... this may explain why I've never understood the appeal of Twitter.

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (4, Insightful)

uncanny (954868) | about a year ago | (#43392019)

It is NOT about spam. It is about purchasing "legitimacy" quickly."

If paying people to follow you made you legitimate, then Scientology would be a real religion!

Fixed that for you (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#43392113)

If people paying to follow you made you legitimate, then Scientology would be a real religion!

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43393003)

If paying people to follow you made you legitimate, then Scientology would be a real religion!

It makes you look legitimate.

You can hire marketing companies to get people to camp outside your store, waiting to be first in line for the latest new widget or movie.

It generates buzz, gets people talking about you, encourages other people to do the same, and on a slow news day the media will write stories about how popular you are, generating free publicity.

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43393551)

You're gonna be really unhappy when the ancestors return and take away all true followers. We who have overcome millions of years of evolution and forced exile thus retaining their tastiness... er, I mean the knowledge of their real identity as food... no, good! ... people!

You'll be left here among the ruins to rebuild civilization while the great Ker teaches us how to fly through the cosmos allowing our descendants to start all over again, on farms... somewhere else!

You'll be back here trying to figure out how to deal with a world that's returning to it's natural state... without all the obvious benefits of globalization that we now enjoy reading about and aspiring toward.

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43392105)

Where's the control in this experiment? How do we know that those 400 "people who mattered" wouldn't have followed back this user's account with fewer followers? Also, did the "people who mattered" actually pay attention to the tweets about the thing this user needed them to pay attention to quickly?

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | about a year ago | (#43393059)

One of the comments on the article was more informative to me than the article alone...

It is NOT about spam. It is about purchasing "legitimacy" quickly."

You're welcome.

Or at least the appearance of legitimacy. Next, Twitter will unveil a portion of their API where somebody can offer a service to "rate" the quailty of your followers and then somebody else will invent a means to manipulate that (see also SEOs vs. Google for the last decade or so) and we'll be right back here this time next year talking about companies that build "legit" backstories so your "fake" twitter accounts stay active "long enough" to count as "legit" followers...

Cat, meet mouse.

Re:The "why" that the article misses... (1)

hkmwbz (531650) | about a year ago | (#43417531)

The obvious flaw here is that many popular accounts on Twitter will automatically follow you back if you follow them.

Same as sexual partner math. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391281)

For guys you divide by five and for girls you add 21.

captcha: subtract

What I'd love to know (2, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year ago | (#43391319)

Is how many of these fake accounts have real followers!

Re:What I'd love to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391707)

What I'd love to know [i]s how many of these fake accounts have real followers!

AC only follows fake Twitter accounts, and even then, only for the flamewars between them.

Re:What I'd love to know (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43392123)

Probably a large portion of them. There seem to be a lot of people who just "follow back" without even reading the account's profile or checking the account's tweets.

Someone's making money at this...not me, though. (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about a year ago | (#43391387)

I just logged into my twitter for the first time in a year a so. I don't use it at all (just cybersquatting on my name, basically), have never followed anyone, and have never given the account name to anyone. Yet, I see that I'm now following 22 peeps from the White House to MLB to Suze Orman. Yeah, the following business is legit, all right. Not. If there's value to me being a Follower...show me the money.

Re:Someone's making money at this...not me, though (3, Informative)

hodet (620484) | about a year ago | (#43391477)

I don't understand. Your account is following people you never told it to follow? I can see having a bunch of bogus people following you but the other way around. My account has never randomly followed people I did not want it to follow.

This is why Google wants real names (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391413)

If you're wondering why Google wants real names and why Facebook briefly tried to get real names, this is why.

Twitter as a commodity works because Twitter can be used to determine what's popular and these guys can manufacture popularity. The popular things will sell better or be received better.

Why hire fake followers? (0)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about a year ago | (#43391471)

What's the purpose behind hiring a bunch of fake accounts to follow you? Vanity? The hope that a huge number of fake followers will attract a huge number of real followers? Fake RTs?

Re:Why hire fake followers? (1)

jxander (2605655) | about a year ago | (#43392533)

Purpose is simply looking important, at least for a little while. Hopefully long enough to gather some real followers before the fake accounts all get terminated.

What's the point? (1)

Loughla (2531696) | about a year ago | (#43391753)

Honestly, other than an ego boost, what is the point of buying followers? I thought the idea was to get eyes onto your information, not numbers. . . Anyone have input here?

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43392283)

show business often looks on youtube and twitter followers to determine candidates for next record signing

Really? (5, Funny)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year ago | (#43391761)

"Some fake accounts look even better than real accounts do."

Not that that's a very high bar...

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43391833)

Q: Can you make money by redefining success by number of users, then creating hundreds of millions of virtual users?
A: Ask Facebook or Twitter.

SocialBakers (2)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43392263)

I just followed the link from TFA to the Social Bakers Fake Followers App. It identified 9 fake followers. Two area real people who I have had meaningful 2-way twitter exchanges with. One has actually collaborated with my wife on a musical project. Definitely not bots. A few are accounts intended to provide automated updates, so yes they're bots but good bots. It missed every one I suspected as fake.

Re:SocialBakers (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43393117)

It missed every one I suspected as fake.

Maybe they're not "fakes"? Maybe they're just lonely vacuous people with non-descript lives who mindlessly follow people on Twitter to help pump up their self-esteem?

We told you that in 2011 (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43392861)

My 2011 paper "Social is bad for search, and search is bad for social" [sitetruth.com] mentions that. It also names providers of fake "likes", fake "+1"s, fake reviews (some of which are very funny), fake accounts, fake IP addresses, and fake phone numbers for fake account verification. There's a whole ecosystem out there generating this junk.

Most of the sites identified in that paper are still in business. Some of the more blatant ones are "bulkaccounts.com" ("1000 Twitter accounts for $99") and "pvaspot.com ("We Offer Top Quality Forwarded Phone Numbers used to create Phone Verified Accounts with a no questions asked 100% guarantee at Competitive Prices with Excellent Customer Service."). The fact that the same sites are active after two years indicates that the major social media networks can't or won't stop them.

As we point out in the paper, social media spam is cheaper and easier than link-farm spam. With a link farm, you have to set up servers, keep them up, fill them with fresh content. This gets expensive. With social media spam, the social media service hosts your spam for you, for free!

Justin Trudeau (1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about a year ago | (#43393587)

Could use this service. Oh wait he does that is why none of his followers registered to vote.

Fake Facebook followers are multi BILLION business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43397725)

Right, and we've known Facebook is a large nest of robots.

FB *charges* companies to send messages to their followers now, the suckers don't realize they're sending messages to bots.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>