Watch out for those Twit­ter Bosses with fake fol­low­ers

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

Is your favourite pop star dip­ping into the so­cial me­dia black mar­ket? There are sev­eral pos­si­ble rea­sons why a pop act or any other so­cial me­dia user for that mat­ter could sud­denly see a huge surge in Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

For in­stance, thou­sands of peo­ple may de­cide to fol­low a per­son on the back of some news story or event. No doubt, the num­bers fol­low­ing Ir­ish Olympic ath­letes grew rapidly in the past fort­night.

In some cases, though, the rise in fol­low­ers is down to that per­son en­gag­ing in the murky trade of buy­ing Twit­ter fol­low­ers. There are sites where pay­ment of $14 will add 1,000 fake fol­low­ers to your name and al­low you to pass your­self off as a Twit­ter boss.

It will strike many as sheer stu­pid­ity that some­one will go to the trou­ble of spend­ing money ac­quir­ing fake fol­low­ers. But in the world of so­cial me­dia, where ap­pear­ance of­ten counts more than sub­stance, there are many who be­lieve that more fol­low­ers equates to more fame and sta­tus and thus they’ll go to ridicu­lous lengths to ac­quire fake fol­low­ers.

For those look­ing to bust the fak­ers, Sta­tusPeo­ple’s Fake Fol­lower is a new web app tool which cal­cu­lates what per­cent­age of a user’s fol­low­ers are fakes. While most Twit­ter ac­counts have a small per­cent­age of fake fol­low­ers thanks to spam bots at large – 4 per cent of The Ticket’s @thetwicket fol­low­ers are fakes, for in­stance – there are oth­ers with much higher per­cent­ages.

Fast Com­pany and blog­ger Zach Bussey re­cently put a cou­ple of high-pro­file Twit­ter users, ones who have gained un­usu­ally huge num­bers of fol­low­ers in a short space of time, to the test. They dis­cov­ered sev­eral Twit­ter users with large num­bers of fol­low­ers to their credit were ac­tu­ally be­ing fol­lowed by up to 80 per cent fakes. Very much a case of caveat emp­tor.

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