The idea that companies and artists have been purchasing Facebook likes and Twitter followers is something that probably makes all of us feel a little uneasy, and for good reason: it’s essentially false advertising. A recent study has blown this shonky practice wide open, naming and shaming those involved, and just how involved they really are.
Politicians and companies were included in the study, though our real beef is with the artists. Some of the most prolific social media users have been sprung, including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Katie Perry and Britney Spears. Social Selling University have crunched the numbers after analysing what would have to be the entire subscriber list to Twitter, and the results are a little concerning.
According to their findings, on average of course, a total of 72,000 fake accounts have been purchased in recent times and divided amongst something like 11,283 different accounts. It’s estimated that the companies behind the fake accounts, or ‘dealers’, rake in around $800 a day for a 7-day period for their services, controlling around 20,000 different fake accounts.
Though lying to their fans about just how many of them there are, bands and artists have a few reasons as to why they would run the risk of being busted. Today’s society drilled in a massive emphasis on judging someone’s importance based on how many followers or likes they have. There is also the belief in herd mentality, that once people see someone has a whole heap of followers, they want to follow also, at the risk of seeming out of touch. Those unaware that the accounts are totally fake are also attracted by the idea that they can expand their target market, and spam them to the bullshit.
Lady Gaga has been listed as the worst offender. Out of a total 28 million + followers, 34% are fake, and 38% are inactive and therefore kinda sus, leaving around 8 million real followers. The Biebs is a close second, with only 7.8 million of his massive 27 million pool of followers being legit. Katy Perry is followed by around 25 million users, though only 26% are real. This is a similar number to Britney Spears, who only has 5.1 million real followers out of an apparent 19 Million.
Jason Ding, a research scientist from Barracuda, has blogged about the growing phenomenon. He describes how dealers, who sell accounts from eBay and Google Store, will make profiles randomly follow some celebs, and also other non famous people, and post tweets from these accounts stolen from real accounts.
“This is the reason that the prices of followers vary dramatically on eBay and other websites, ranging from $2 to $55 per 1000 followers…the higher the price is, the more real the accounts look.” The average cost of 1000 fans is around $18, and it’s thought that most abusers of the system will have between 4,000 and 26,000 followers, giving an average of 1,799 fake followers on each dodgy account.
Facebook has pledged to come down hard on those who operate dicey accounts through their social media. Bands who have bought followers should be wary, as people become more and more clued in on the practice. We’re on to you now.