New York authorities said they launched a probe into the activity of a shady company called Devumi which is accused of selling millions of nonexistent followers to Twitter users.
Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law,
said the state’s chief prosecutor Eric Schneiderman.
The company has allegedly built the fake personas based on real people’s identities. While the firm denies the allegations, some of the clients of the “follower factory” are celebrities.
Authorities launched the probe in the wake of a New York Times report describing Devumi’s activities. The report, which appeared Saturday in the newspaper, includes interviews of real people whose personal data was stolen and used to create false Twitter accounts and profiles. The fake followers are animated by bots.
The report alleges that actors, businessmen, and political pundits who sought to increase their follower base and make their tweets more tempting bought fake followers from the New York firm.
Fake Followers Help Boost Influence on Social Media
On Twitter, a large follower base has a tremendous impact on other users and expands the account holders’ influence dramatically. The tactic can be used to make sponsorship deals and job offers more appealing.
Schneiderman is concerned that such unlawful tactics could undermine democracy.
Customers can purchase 250,000 phony social media followers for just $12. Davumi also offers fake retweets and likes. However, the firm does not limit its activities just to Twitter. Its services include YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Soundcloud, among other platforms.
The firm boasts that it has “helped” more than 200,000 musicians, “pros,” Youtubers, companies, and celebrities boost their audiences and obtain more exposure. Although the firm is officially located in New York City, the investigation found that it is base din Florida, with some of its employees being located in the Philippines.
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