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Twitter's Fake Followers Watching IPO Closely

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the keeping-it-real dept.

Twitter 120

kraksmoka writes "Is your social media pro 'making it go viral' by pressing a button instead of interacting with a real audience? The purchase and use of fake followers by small to mid-sized social media agencies is rising on Twitter and there is concern that the growth of fake followers can't be stopped. "

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This is relevant to my interests (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45384725)

As a fake investor, I will follow this development closely.

Re:This is relevant to my interests (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45384771)

[><] Retweeted by Joining Yet Again

Re:This is relevant to my interests (2)

mpbrede (820514) | about a year ago | (#45384867)

We need to have your comment modded up by fake moderators. A higher positive ranking on your comment will indicate better acceptance in social media circles.

Re:This is relevant to my interests (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45384885)

And I will claim this as a fake first post. #slashdot

Re:This is relevant to my interests (1)

mysterons (1472839) | about a year ago | (#45385219)

RT

And I will claim this as a fake first post. #slashdot

Re:This is relevant to my interests (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384955)

"I just ate some pizza and then took a dump!"

-Average Twatter post

Re:This is relevant to my interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384983)

You forgot some hashtags like #lol #teehee #justtookadump #imanattentionwhore

Re:This is relevant to my interests (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45385093)

As a fake investor, I will follow this development closely.

* Starts following. :)

Re:This is relevant to my interests (1)

houghi (78078) | about a year ago | (#45385145)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:This is relevant to my interests (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45385415)

Fake newsletter. Send fake money for a subscription.

Re:This is relevant to my interests (2)

thunderclap (972782) | about a year ago | (#45387671)

Fake newsletter. Send fake money for a subscription.

Will Bitcoins work?

How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about a year ago | (#45384737)

/. seems to be falling behind in another important trend. Virtually all the posters here appear genuine, which must be holding back the site ranking somehow.

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384779)

/. seems to be falling behind in another important trend. Virtually all the posters here appear genuine, which must be holding back the site ranking somehow.

According to my hardcoded results list: the answer to your question is zero. If you feel I've responded in error please resubmit your query using alternate wording, or add or remove quotation marks.

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384813)

indeed ever since China deplyed 50c posters to skew public perception on internets everybody else is doing it too. Seeing this in such context I am not so sure why summary talks about the fear? It is just reality. The same reality that affects quality of wikipedia articles or to be honest also still existing encyclopedia articles too.

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384837)

Interesting problem: many of the posts on your site are faked by interested parties trying to get an edge

Boring problem: there are no fake posts b/c interested parties don't care about your site

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45384943)

I spent my reward on ALE and WHORES!

Paid commentors (5, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#45384953)

Virtually all the posters here appear genuine

browse at -1 and have a look at the comments...i mod often and you're right /. is *definitely* more genuine than most... /. is crawling with paid Public Relations staffers (Fox News is def. not the only one to do this), paid commentors, and maybe even an actual experimental bot (APK...)

They ruin the top of the comments on anything to do with Snowden, the oil industry, and the Trayvon Martin case type stuff....techies havent' gotten *more* conservative in the last 10 years...but /. comments on average have...it's because of PR and paid commentors

We *genuine* humans need to be more discerning than ever...there are people, much like us, whose entire job is to create false perceptions on things like /.

Its kind of important, for you know, idea neutrality that we all be smarter, respond to only comments that are value added and of course...and I need this advice as much as anyone...

***DONT FEED THE TROLLS***

Re:Paid commentors (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45384989)

/. crowd is getting older, and older you get more likely are you to become/identify conservative. There is actual research backing this up, but I am too lazy to look it up for you. I think this is why we see a lot of TP nuttery appearing over here and not because paid shills and PR firms.

except they aren't (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#45385063)

those studies are not at all informative to this discussion & /. definitely has had an uptick in paid commenters (look at UID #'s & it tells the whole story for you)

they measure **self reported attitudes** and have not been replicated b/c...they're not worth a researcher's time...

I'm in my mid-30s now and there is no way any of my older geek friends have gotten **more Republican** in their personal philosophy...from pro-choice to pro-life? if anything you can see a measurable move towards atheism...

You may argue that more geeks either *dont' vote* or vote for a 'libertarian' than previously and that I would grant you...but there's not chance in hell educated people are becoming more conservative

Re:except they aren't (2)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#45385297)

Eh, maybe. The Slashdot user base had really dropped over the last few years and few influential tech people hang here anymore. I don't really see us as a worthy demographic for paid shills.

There might be a few, but it's nothing like it was in even 5 years ago.

Re:except they aren't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386893)

lol. Move out of the basement. Get a job. Find out that you have to pay taxes. See the world and discover that those liberal feel-good theories and slogans don't work in the real world.

American vs French "social conservative" (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#45385095)

also, those studies are global-oriented with their language and issues...

France can be considered "socially conservative" by the definition and normalization those tests use...

American "social conservatives" and French "social conservatives" disagree on virtually every issue a US conservative finds important...guns, abortion, civil rights, nudity/porn, religion...

you're confusing two very different concepts

Re:Paid commentors (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#45385065)

Age often brings more conservative values. Slashdotters are getting older. Some of us always have had conservative values on many issues.

Re:Paid commentors (1, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45385105)

Age doesn't bring conservative values so much as some people are cunts who pretended to play for the other team while it supported their interests.

So, a poor student is going to get the support of people with a social conscience. But once you have money, "fuck that shit lol i'm making bank", &c.

Re:Paid commentors (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#45385167)

Maybe your idea of a "social conscience" isn't the same as mine. For first world inhabitants, mine has the concepts of being responsible, self-reliant, taking advantage of opportunity and working hard so as not to be a burden on society. Maybe you think such attitudes are being a "cunt", but I call them good old fashioned values.

Re:Paid commentors (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45385365)

You've just listed typical communistic values. Indeed, "from each according to his ability" involves the greatest possible self-reliance and working hard so as not to be a burden.

The main difference between all the mainstream philosophies is in terms of how much work each thinks needs to be done. The capitalist thinks they only need to work for themselves for long enough to hoard and invest; the socialist thinks they need to work for as long as possible for themselves; and the communist they should work as long as possible for everyone.

Now the capitalist likes to misrepresent the communist as lazy ("he'll just expect someone ELSE to do the work!"), and the communist does the same back to the capitalist ("he'll just expect someone ELSE to do the work!"), but every sort has to do some work. The capitalist is nevertheless, ideologically speaking, the laziest. This isn't really a criticism, but an observation.

Re:Paid commentors (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#45385475)

words like "communist" and "capitalist" and "socialist" are those of theory, in practice all those systems have privileged elite at top of the pyramid who take away opportunity and rights of others to continue their power, all those have ethnic or other distinct groups that are more privileged, and "some are more equal than others" as the joke goes.

Re:Paid commentors (3, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45385517)

Yes exactly. Every scheme has "salt of the earth" people who just want to do an honest day's work, exploitative dickheads at the top, and a mixture half way between the two. That Bible-bashing gun-worshipper is probably just as decent, honest and hardworking as the girl who makes peace signs and sticks flowers in her hair, but they are taught to hate each other.

Re:Paid commentors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386785)

but they are taught to hate each other.

We have always been at war with Eastasia. Or Eurasia. Or the liberals. Or the illegal immigrants. Y'know, I can't remember which anymore, but the guy on the talk show news I watch told me so.

Re:Paid commentors (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#45385281)

It brings more conservative values as you learn with age that more people are sponging off of you. "A poor student"? I smell a vested interest.

Re:Paid commentors (3, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45385537)

I'm as far from "poor student" as you can get, so no vested interest here!

If there is anything you should learn with age, it's JUST HOW MUCH you owe to other people, without whom you'd be scraping around in the dirt, no matter your personal opinion of your own genius. If you think that people are sponging off you, you're learning nothing at all, and just taking advantage of others.

not the same 'conservative' (3, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | about a year ago | (#45385141)

I addressed the "more conservative" thing above to another commenter...the definition of 'conservative' in those studies and 'conservative' in US politics is **very** different and completely unfit for comparison...

It measures 'conservative' in the sense of risk taking...like would you cash some of your kid's college fund to invest in a stock tip from a trusted friend?

younger...more likely
older...less likely

That doesn't mean that getting older makes you favor policies that protect companies like M$ and become pro-life!!!!

Those studies mean 'conservative' in risk-taking...not politics and policy!!!!

Re:Paid commentors (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#45386031)

Age often brings more conservative values.

No, but as time passes, the definition of "conservative" changes.

Ditto the definition of "liberal".

Re:Paid commentors (4, Interesting)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#45385067)

A moderator a day keeps the Real Name policies away.

Re:Paid commentors (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about a year ago | (#45385425)

I wouldn't be surprised if your statements were correct, but I'd like to see proof of this.

Re:Paid commentors (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#45385599)

... because any opinion differing wildly from yours must be that of a shill, bot, or troll? Accept the fact that Slashdot has gone mainstream and there are people with a diverse set of political and social ideals here now. Or, continue to think that your opinion is the only one. Your call.

I can tell you I work in IT, and at my office the "left wing" line of thinking is definitely more rare than the right.

Re:Paid commentors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386449)

Since you bring up comments becoming more conservative, I'm guessing you're not talking about disrupting conversation into flame wars, spreading apathy, shaming dissenters, etc. (known shill tactics) and you are instead talking about opinions that don't agree with yours.

Re:Paid commentors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45387175)

I'm fighting a Walmart development in Miami and they pay for comments all the time. Its messed up, someone from Arkansas will post on our local newspaper saying how the Waltons saved their baby.

www.nowalmartinmidtown.com

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385069)

Your comment were so funny!

www.goblowyourself.com

Re:How many Slashdot Commenters are fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386959)

Fake or so heavily agenda-fueled that it's hard to tell the difference? Let's see, cold fjord, girlintraining, hairyfeet... Whatever happened to circletimessquare, did he finally make his pinoy movie or is he still spouting garbage around here?

What's the point? (1)

Jack Malmostoso (899729) | about a year ago | (#45384743)

Can someone explain to me what is the value for a company to have a bunch of fake followers on their twitter account?
CEO's brag about it at their Sunday golf games?

Re:What's the point? (1)

mysterons (1472839) | about a year ago | (#45384777)

This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.

Re:What's the point? (4, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45384791)

Real people are more likely to follow something that seems popular, no matter how broken it is.

See also Microsoft, Christianity, the Soviet Union, capitalism, and American Football.

You forgot one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385853)

fluoridation

Re:What's the point? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#45384809)

This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.

I think there is research out there showing that people are more likely to follow accounts that have a lot of followers. So, what you do is hire a firm to give you a bunch of fake followers in the hopes that real people start following you.

Re:What's the point? (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45386209)

You're right on the "research out there". Social networks tend to grow not so much at their edges ( where the less well-connected nodes are ) but on the inside, at the already well-connected nodes. Just read it last night, a compendium edited by one IBM guy, Aggarwal is his name if I remember correctly.

Re:What's the point? (2)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#45384859)

This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.

I noticed something similar on a photo-sharing website I use. I noticed that I had a lot of followers. WTF? Who are these people? When I started looking into it, my "followers" had posted no pictures or had a page of a couple of random generic pictures. And I noticed that my followers all had followers who had followers . . . . etc.

LOL.

Fake people following other fake people.

Re:What's the point? (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#45386935)

Most of those fake people were created as a part of a campaign to establish a higher Google page rank. There's an entire "fictional internet" out there made of self-sustaining, RSS-fed, news aggregator web sites, with links to dozens of other similar sites, and some advertisements for various sleazy commercial enterprises. The pages look very generic, as if someone simply took the default themes in some web design tool. And since the Google spiders can't tell that these aren't real pages, the page ranks go up for the sleaze-of-the-week who signed on with the SEO that hosts them.

They just love to cross links into the "real" internet with "real" people, to leech off the popularity and legitimacy of the humans. Of course, association with those spammers will cost you personally when Google discovers and sanitizes their references to these as they're discovered. Your own page rank may go way down as a result of having allowed them to link from you.

One thing you can do to keep spammers away is to add a rel="nofollow" attribute to any links provided by your users until you've vetted them somehow. Of course, if your photo sharing site doesn't already do that, you're kind of stuck.

Re:What's the point? (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | about a year ago | (#45385131)

This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. .

I could see that on Facebook. Even though I have no use for Facebook it does allow anyone to essentially have their own personal website where they can post useful information. The fact that nobody actually uses Facebook to post useful information -- not even businesses -- is another matter entirely.

Twitter, on the other hand, is completely useless. It's impossible to convey any useful information, which makes your eleventy gazillion followers pointless.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45387447)

Twitter, on the other hand, is completely useless. It's impossible to convey any useful information, which makes your eleventy gazillion followers pointless.

Just because you don't find value in Targeted, Direct, Opt-in Advertising doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Twitter is the modern day replacement for a "fan club" for celebrities. All those little screaming teenage girls will stampede the local retail store when commanded (er, I mean "alerted") to a Special Deal via their favorite Idol's Twitter feed.

Re:What's the point? (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45386221)

Yep. Blackberry did it ( until shortly, at least ). Some plastic Linda-out-of-a-box going regularly all ecstatic about some bland RIM thing. The IDF have some of those, too.

Re: What's the point? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384781)

If a company has evangelists to hype their products they look better to normal folk if they have lots of followers

Re:What's the point? (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about a year ago | (#45384793)

The real issue is people who promise to "increase your twitter follower count" (whether they're a person you hire, or a firm you contract), but instead buy you fake followers. If you can trust your "social media expert," this is a non-story.

Well, that and investors who see "Oooh! 85000 followers can't be wrong!" without bothering to use one of the many tools to estimate fake follower percentages. But I have little sympathy for wealthy fools.

Re:What's the point? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#45386815)

If you can trust your "social media expert," this is a non-story.

I had to let mine go, what with the current economic climate and all that.

It was him or the Feng Shui consultant.

Shitty companies go public (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385161)

Look it, the goal is to make a company with a lot of perceived potential and then sell it - usually to the public in the form of an IPO.

That's where the money is - selling it off to suck...investors.

Now, if the company were really profitable or really had potential, the prinpals would have kept it to themselves.

There are a lot of extremely profitable companies that are kept private because they are that good - Cargill for example [cargill.com] .

Re:What's the point? (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about a year ago | (#45385355)

Pretty much that, and the ability to say "well, 100,000 people can't be wrong..."

A startup I was recently involved in had their twitter follower count go from about 4,000 to over 100,000 in 72 hours (this was after I left), without any media exposure or obvious campaigns - that sort of thing cannot be legitimate, however you look at it.

One easy way for Twitter to combat this sort of thing would be to put a time graph of follows for an account in the public arena, and then people could see the huge jumps that cannot correlate with real world events, and make their own judgement calls. Anything you can't find much about on Google but has massive jumps in followers in shirt periods if time is a quick way to raise suspicions about legitimacy.

That's fascinating Mike! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384749)

My aunt earns $8034 a week fake following people on Twitter!

To be expected (1)

mysterons (1472839) | about a year ago | (#45384753)

This is the same as any other optimisation task (eg link farms for Page Rank). People will try ti and (eventually) Twitter will work-out how to clamp-down on it.

Rinse and repeat.

Why is this news?

Re:To be expected (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45384853)

Wait... Google has worked out how not to return crap for the majority of its results?

I thought it was just a quicker way of searching Wikipedia, geek forums and shopping comparison sites. For most real world stuff, it's become nearly useless.

TWYTTR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384757)

Can't these services just die soon? Who are the stupid fucking idiots using them?

Re:TWYTTR (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45384807)

Dude, you have like 58 more characters to criticise with.

Now THIS is evil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384773)

(signed)
Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Dick Costolo (twitter), Marissa Mayer

A simple tech solution (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45384783)

Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created. they can also follow its activity patterns, likes, etc. to build a profile of the account. In addition to using that data to generate revenue it could look t typical behavioral patterns of real users and establish a set o rules that indicate the account belongs to an actual person. It could then flag accounts that appear to be fake and not count them as followers. This is straightforward behavioral analysis and pattern recognition. Of course, since growth in accounts are the driving force behind Twitter's value, while they have a need for people to trust that Twitter's user base is real there is the competing demand of having a growing user base. the risk to Twitter is if us of fake accounts becomes widespread companies will discount the value of the number of followers accordingly and Twitter's revenue stream and value will take a hit.

Re:A simple tech solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45384819)

Yes, they could but they won't. Much like Facebook they sell advertisers on the number of users (real or fake). It's not in their best interests to admit that a large part of their user base is just there to boost everyone's perceived value.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45384877)

Yes, you are definitely a consultant.

(When the Bronze Behaviour Discriminator fails as the spammers step up their game in this arms race, will people have to upgrade to the Silver Behaviour Discriminator?)

Re:A simple tech solution (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#45385011)

Computer-administered Turing tests are win-win—the arms race doesn't end until someone develops strong AI, at which point the followers are no longer fake.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45385081)

You need strong AI to develop a computer-administered Turing test tho innit.

Yeah, some captchas are ahead in the arms race for now, but that's nowhere near a Turing test.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45385285)

Problem with captchas is that they are impossible on mobile devices. Unless you are willing to lock mobile user creation captchas cannot be used.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#45386695)

Everyone still wins! Somewhere along the line, you get strong AI.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45386163)

Yes, you are definitely a consultant.

(When the Bronze Behaviour Discriminator fails as the spammers step up their game in this arms race, will people have to upgrade to the Silver Behaviour Discriminator?)

Actually, your target is not the bot creators but the users of the output. These aren't run of the mill spammers but real companies who are paying for a service and who have an interest in what is delivered because their name is attached. If Twitter followers becomes an unreliable way to determine value, and hence price; the buyers will stop buying. It's a demand side solution.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45386257)

I think this is a marketing thing, not an investment thing, no?

You're not trying to lie to investors, but to get lots of real people to sign up to something by making your junk seem more popular than it is.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

mysterons (1472839) | about a year ago | (#45385169)

Well, Twitter could simply stop making public the number of followers an account has. Or not even reveal that number to the user in question.

There are simple ways to stop this. Whether Twitter does this is another matter.

Re:A simple tech solution (4, Interesting)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45385241)

>>>Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created.
 
I expect ./ crowd to at least understand that IP is not a reliable identifier. Twitter can only reliably determine when, everything else they know only if bot creator did not bother to spoof it. Behavior-based detection is also problematic - you can easily scrape existing activity, filter out swearing and specific identities, substitute location identifiers for something local and have 100% undetectable bot.

Example: Scrape small-town phone book, run permutation algorithm on second name and street # to avoid collision with real people (but keep everything else intact), add random gender-appropriate picture and follow a random set of big news and artists at creation. Pipe this through TOR, stagger your account creation to avoid tripping volume detection and mind timezones for posting and registering. Proceed to post random scraped tweets that are filtered for positive-biased sentiment.

Re:A simple tech solution (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a year ago | (#45386147)

>>>Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created. I expect ./ crowd to at least understand that IP is not a reliable identifier. Twitter can only reliably determine when, everything else they know only if bot creator did not bother to spoof it.

True, but it's not so much to identify a single user but if batches of new users are created and then use that to follow their behavior. You really don't care about id'ing a unique individual but rather seeing if enough cues are available to identify fake users.

Re:A simple tech solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386511)

Cell phone HTTP accesses from my cell phone provider are always forced though a transparent HTTP proxy. This means many thousands of accounts are normally accessed via the same IP address.

Re:A simple tech solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386801)

Sounds like you've done this before.

Of course it can be stopped (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a year ago | (#45384869)

Lock your tweets

Fake followers cannot be stopped (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45384915)

With Silicon Valley so bent on "frictionless" experience for the mobile and "grown now, monetize later" there is no practical way to secure any of the existing social networks. One only need to reverse engineer mobile API, rip the keys and you are good-to-go creating fake accounts based on the phone book via TOR or rented botnet. Not everyone can do this, but we are getting close to where tools like Dalvik emulators and smali will let moderately talented skript kiddies to pull it off.

What I described above will not kill Twitter, spam is expected and humans did tolerate a lot of it with email without giving up on the platform. For now it is still possible to detect crude tweet scraping and attribution-less reposing with creative use of geolocation, sentiment analysis and so on. So if spam volume goes up, then you can throw resources at keeping it down.

What will kill Twitter is the first hack that manages to integrate natural language algorithm with tweeter bots. I can't think of a way to counter this without draconian clamp-down on account creation.

It can be stopped. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385015)

Seems like this should be easy to stop. Fake followers likely all follow the same set of groups and all don't follow the same set of other groups (competitors to the social media company's clients, for instance). They should be detectable.

And I suspect they're already following random other people they've crawled. A "Do you know this person?" type question in the client could alert them with enough positives.

Twitters IPO made me think about IRC (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | about a year ago | (#45385099)

and how you could never make a dime off it - unless i'm just that out of touch. The only people who made money are the ones that got it for the 26 dollar IPO price, and since everyone has been waiting for the next big google, facebook, etc, they simply bought into it without knowing what twitter really is - an app amongst apps that is used by people who generally don't have a lot of money (under 18 yr olds)

Re:Twitters IPO made me think about IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385871)

No. The people who made money off the Twitter IPO are not the ones who bought at the IPO price. The people who made money were the ones who *sold* at the IPO price: namely, as the YouTube bears say, teh Goldmansachs. See http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2013/11/who-gained-from-twitters-underpriced-ipo.html [newyorker.com] . In other news, the people who made money off the gold rushes of the nineteenth century were the ones selling shovels.

They should watch it closely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385117)

Fake twitter followers will make twitter useless for metrics and for business purposes, which would make the value drop.

Fake followers - fake profits (5, Informative)

Chemisor (97276) | about a year ago | (#45385193)

It is mind boggling that people are evidently buying this stock without having looked at their finances [google.com] , easily available from Google. Surely they would have noticed that Twitter has negative net income of -$64M. Worse, it looks like have had net losses in each of the last three years and their losses appear to be accelerating downward (see graph on top of the page) even with increasing revenue. I have no idea how anybody came up with a $20 market cap value. To me they look like an overpriced loser on their way to bankruptcy.

Re:Fake followers - fake profits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385499)

Twitter has negative net income of -$64M

Double negative income means they're profitable!

Re:Fake followers - fake profits (4, Informative)

hardtofindanick (1105361) | about a year ago | (#45385697)

You sound like a typical rational person. You should know by now markets only care about perception, expectation, and potential.

Re:Fake followers - fake profits (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#45385787)

Market hypesters only care about commission. If it goes broke they get a percentage from the people selling, and make some on shorting it.

Re:Fake followers - fake profits (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#45386097)

Even they will tell you that they don't expect to be profitable well into 2015. Plus they still don't really know how to monetize the site without pissing off users. You'd have to be a moron to buy this stock and I say this as someone who does speculative equity purchases.

Ignorance (1)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year ago | (#45385359)

How about we accept that Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin don't really matter and just ignore them? Nah, marketing people need their meaningless metrics to justify their salaries and spending.

Re:Ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386689)

This.
Who even uses twitter?
None of my friends use it as far as I know.
Some of my friends apparently know people who use twitter, but when I asked they couldn't say who.

Just let the media companies buy their fake twitter accounts and let the market analysts base all their analysis on these fake accounts.
I can't care less.

Anonymity vs Promotion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45385503)

Fake accounts are the way anonymity works. If you value anonymity, you cannot then discourage fake accounts. Without anonymity, you have no privacy. Without privacy, none of your best contributions to society can really be ascribed to true merit (as opposed to attention whoring, etc.).

On the other hand, promoting trademarks are the main way that a business makes people aware that they exist. As long as intellectual property exists, the incentive to market via fake identities will continue to increase. And intellectual property will exist as long as there is greed or pride or cynical anti-collectivism.

Re:Anonymity vs Promotion (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45386249)

Said the cowardly anonymous user...

This is daft (2)

Peter Harris (98662) | about a year ago | (#45385513)

There's no need to "stop" companies using fake followers. It's just an incredibly stupid idea. 10,000 real followers indicates some proportion of those people talking to their friends about you, mentioning you on other media, possibly doing crazy fan stuff on youtube. Real followers beget more real followers. That's what viral in this context implies, (although it is a creepy and unattractive term used by creepy and unattractive people.)

10,000 or a million fake followers won't do that for you. Go ahead, throw your money away if you want to pay for imaginary people to say they like you.

Re:This is daft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386811)

It is marketing agencies that are using the fake followers. Presumably the companies paying the agencies think they are getting real followers.

Here (0)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#45385939)

Since Slashdot no longer gives us any incentive to write good posts, I will use the one post a day this account gets to recap this thread:

1. One third of the posts are by basement-bound losers who are butthurt and ask why Twitter hasn't been banned, mainly because nobody follows them on Twitter. Especially girls.

2. One third of the posts are in one thread between two raging assholes who both want the last word. At least one is an atheist, naturally, who thinks evangelism was invented by Satanic Nazis yet won't shut the fuck up about what he and the other 300 atheists in the world believe.

3. One third of the posts are tired, limp, violently unfunny internet memes that have been dragged from their beds in the dark of night and fucked to death.

4. All 100 posts are then modded as far down as possible except the first internet meme which gets a 5: funny

5. At least one post accuses someone or something of being a "cunt."

6. When the next story is posted, start from one again.

That is what this site has become. You got exactly what you wanted, and it's perfectly suited to your intelligence level.

Re:Here (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45386239)

Dude, you're stone-age old ( if I my attach any correlation value to your userID ), which is a compliment in and by itself. I myself am not young. But really: you need to get laid. Get yourself a hooker and some pot, or a line of coke, and blow off some steam. Dude.

Re:Here (0)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#45386681)

Dude, the "you need to get laid" meme is one of the limpest, most unfunny memes of all time. It is not now, nor has it ever been funny. Get a new writer. Yours is phoning it in.

Re:Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45386825)

You speak of getting laid and getting high as if they are your only aspirations in life.

How is this not computer fraud/abuse? (1)

Marrow (195242) | about a year ago | (#45386413)

Using someones computer/service for something they prohibit and did not intend seems like it would be covered under the laws governing computers. Don't these ad agencies have lawyers? Or are the ad men just not telling their lawyers.
If SPAM is a crime, then this seems to be the same.

good idea: make all friends/followers fake (1)

johnwerneken (74428) | about a year ago | (#45387025)

make it all like spam. maybe worth doing if ya got a hundred million to fish amongst otherwise worthless. Cut the balls of monetizing information. Drown this industry before it grows any larger.

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