Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Twitter Prestige and Influence in Followers

The New York Times  Follower Factory

"Social media is a virtual world that is filled with half bots, half real people."
"You can't take any tweet at face value. And not everything is what it seems." 
"We're working with completely unregulated, closed ecosystems that aren't reporting on these things. They have a perverse incentive to let it happen."
"They want to police it to the extent it doesn't seem obvious, but they make money off it."
Rami Essaid, founder, Distil Networks, cyber-security

"It's fraud. People who judge by how many likes or how many followers, it's not a healthy thing."
James Cracknell, Olympic gold medalist
Mr. Cracknell, a British rower, should know. He's among those plentiful numbers who bought followers. Which is to say he became a Devumi client; an American company in business to promote the image for people that they have more followers on Twitter than they have actually acquired without resorting to fraud. Devumi has itself collected millions of dollars in the global marketplace promoting social media fraud.

The company sells Twitter followers and retweets to its clients who have a wish to appear popular or to exert influence online by appearing to have great numbers of followers. They have a stock estimated at about 3.5 million automated accounts, any one of which can be sold multiple times providing its customers with over 200 million Twitter followers with at least 55,000 of the accounts making use of names, profile pictures and allied personal details of real Twitter users.

Eric Schneiderman Retweeted The New York Times
Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law. We’re opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities.
Eric Schneiderman added,

The accounts, including some of minors, are counterfeit in the economy of online influence -- booming in popularity -- reaching into any industry where a mass audience -- rather, the illusion of  mass following can be monetized. As many as 48 million Twitter users representing close to 15 percent of their total are such automated accounts meant to simulate the presence of real people. Even Facebook was forced to disclose it had 60 million fake accounts on its social media platform.

Fake accounts, known as bots, are useful in influencing advertising audiences, in reshaping political debates, in defrauding businesses and in ruining reputations. Despite which their creation and sale rest in an unclear legal zone. Twitter and other platforms may prohibit the purchase of followers, but dozens of sites continue to sell them without repercussion of any kind. And while 27-year-old German Calas, founder of Devumi, claims to know nothing of social identities stolen from real users he also denies his company sells fake followers.

Business and court records indicate that Devumi has over 200,000 customers among whom are television stars, professional athletes, pastors and models. Devumi offers to Twitter followers YouTube views, plays on SoundCloud and LinkedIn endorsements. The computer billionaire Michael Dell is a client, while Kathy Ireland who presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire has hundreds of thousands of Devumi followers.
Photo: Valerie Loiseleux/Getty Images

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