Influencers. Adland has gone from hiring celebrities as brand advocates to promoting the use of ‘affordable’ services from influencers that float in the blogsphere. But are these figures even real?
“Brands are now buying fake likes,” said Paul Roebuck, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore and Malaysia, at the recent A+M’s Spin & Spiel town hall conference. “Agencies are recommending brands to buy followers. But what do these numbers even mean?”
A recent report released on fake Twitter users by Barracuda Network revealed that 98% of tweets from fake Twitter accounts were sent via twitter.com, as compared to 24% of real account users using twitter.com, who would prefer using a third party or mobile application to share.
Twitter currently holds 230 million active monthly users, composing over 500 million tweets per day.
“Fake accounts are not only being used for maleware distribution, but they are also monetised by selling them as followers,” said regional manager for Barracuda in Malaysia, Thiban Darmalingam.
He further emphasised there are currently 52 sellers on eBay selling Twitter followers who are making fake Twitter accounts more affordable, too.
“A year ago, 1,000 fake followers could have set you back USD25 but now the average price is USD11. At an estimate, these dealers have several thousand buyers who spend an average of USD65. In fact, our researchers found one dealer who may have generated USD1.4 million just by selling fake Twitter followers,” said Thiban.
The popular social media platform has no solution to this abuse.
“There is no way to block such activities other than by manually blocking these suspicious users. While this may work in the short term, it will be a tedious process for users that have been added to hundreds of lists,” Thiban explains.
Fraudsters are cashing in on this less than innovative way to make money, especially when there is a demand for these numbers.