LUBBOCK, TX -- - Social Media Bots
A new report in the New York Times detailing who millions of accounts on social media are fake. Even when they include real people's identities and private information.
In the world of social media, the equation is simple: the more followers you get the more influence you have.
But there can be more to those loyal online followers than meets the eye. Some of them are completely made up. One study finding that as many as 48 million of Twitter's reported active users are automated accounts. However, Twitter is claiming the number is much lower.
According to a New York Times investigation, others actually are real people whose profiles have been stolen by anonymous bot makers use to create a whole new account and resold by retailers as “counterfeit coins in the booming economy of online influence.”
“For some people that buy fake followers it's about money, for some people it's about influence and for a lot of people it's both,” Richard Harris, Graphics Editor with the New York Times said.
A retailer called Devumi promises to “accelerate your social growth” by selling followers among it's 200 thousand customers.
The company providing it's clients with more than 200 million Twitter followers but the Times says it found that 3.5 million of those are fake accounts, with some seemingly taken from real people.
“We found over 50,00 bot accounts from every state in the United States and from around the world that had taken the biographical details from real Twitter users,” Harris said.
Devumi's founder telling the Times his company does not sell fake followers and had no knowledge of stolen social identities.
Harris says if you're a prospective employer and search for someone on social media site and find that they've been retweeting graphic adult content or articles about bitcoin, they might not get the job. So there's a real harm done through this process of mass identity theft.
Some of Devumi's high profile customer tell the Times they have regrets about buying followers. On his Twitter account, the New York attorney general says he will be investigating Devumi for “it's apparent sale of bots using stolen identities.”
Harris says,“This isn't a problem that is gonna go away any time soon.”