Buying followers is a common practice on social media. Twitter, Facebook, and the other social media platforms know that many users are after a vanity number of followers, which is why there is a thriving industry centered on purchasing fake followers. On many of these platforms, buying followers I prohibited. However, that doesn’t stop users from purchasing followers.
Earlier this month, Twitter cracked down on fake accounts. Many well-known Twitter users lost a significant chunk of their followers. Those who lost followers range from entertainers and media figures to entrepreneurs and athletes. The people targeted in this sweep bought followers from a company called Devumi. Twitter and lawmakers want action taken against the company, but Devumi isn’t the only company out there selling fake followers and artificial engagement.
In the Devumi case, The New York Times was the first to break the story. The Times reports that New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman will review whether the company had broken state laws against impersonation and commercial deception. New York may have a case against the company because there are 55,000 known fake accounts that use real names, pictures, and details of real Twitter users.
Even though Twitter is attempting to take action against fake accounts, this isn’t the first crack down and it won’t be the last. It is estimated that there are still tens of millions of fake users on social media. As long as people desire popularity, or at least the illusion of it, there will be a market for fake followers. Twitter’s situation is made worse by the fact that the company doesn’t require an account to be attached to a real person. While changing that may help, it will not solve the problem because people will find other ways to inflate their follower numbers. In fact, it may encourage more companies to turn to impersonating real people and disregard the legal repercussions.