In four years on Twitter I have managed to pick up a bit over 850 followers, which may not sound like much, but it’s about 750-800 more than I had any reason to anticipate.
In about four years more, I might be able to claim a thousand more followers, just doing whatever the blazes it is I’m doing now. Or, if I’m impatient, I could just write a check:
One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan.
He then programmed the accounts to “follow” the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar’s fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell’s tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice.
This, of course, violates Twitter’s Terms of Service, but this is probably not a major consideration for buyers and sellers of fake followers.
How many of these people aren’t actually, you know, people? Not so much, Twitter insists:
In securities filings, Twitter says it believes fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users. Independent researchers believe the number is higher.
Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli say they found 20 million fake accounts for sale on Twitter this summer. That would amount to nearly 9% of Twitter’s monthly active users.
Personally, I myself have never had a sudden influx of followers so massive as to make it impossible to check their papers — unlike some people I could name.