Tuesday, April 9, 2013


I should have known that you can buy Twitter followers. Celebrities real and manufactured are paid to turn up at functions; the fan magazines of yore were filled with studio-generated stories, and yet, I was fascinated by the sheer number of companies that sell Twitter accounts (two dozen or more). How does that work?

From the article Fake Twitter Followers Becomes Multimillion Dollar Business in the New York Times:

"...fake followers were typically sold in packages ranging from $1 to $1,000 for 1,000 to one million accounts. For instance, Fiverr sells 1,000 Twitter followers for $5.

Those fake accounts can be sold to multiple buyers — in fact, buyers prefer that the accounts follow others to make them appear more authentic. Web tools that try to tell fake followers from real ones often look at an account’s inactivity or its following-to-follower ratio. The more people they follow and the more active they are, the more authentic they appear.

'There is now software to create fake accounts,' Mr. De Micheli said in an interview. 'It fills in every detail. Some fake accounts look even better than real accounts do.'

The most coveted fake accounts tweet (or retweet) constantly, have profile pictures and complete bios, and some even link to Web sites that they claim belong to them. But in many cases, a close look reveals that some of the accounts were set up purely to retweet material from specific sites."

Are you wondering where the fake accounts are coming from? Doesn't someone somewhere have to fill in at least the basic info? There is name-generating and automatic form-filling-in software; but what about the more sophisticated sites?

In 2011, there was a flurry of headlines about Chinese prisoners forced to play World of War Craft to build up virtual credits that the prison guards would sell to gamers for real money. I imagine Chinese prisoners feverishly creating Twitter accounts; or a virtual maquiladora in Mexico or perhaps a sweatshop in the USA. I've seen a couple of interesting Craigslist data entry at home job offerings that fall that could be create-fake-accounts.

However, fake accounts may be the ultimate best way to make money on Twitter, to wit:

--$1 million: how much fake-account businesses claim they can make in one week.
--1,000: A typical batch of fake follower accounts is sold between this and one million.
--$18: the average price for 1,000 fake followers.
--$30: the highest amount some sellers brag they make per fake account.
--125: how many daily retweets you can get for $150 a month. On the cheaper side, $9 will get you five retweets a day.

The funny thing about me musing about Twitter is that I don't Tweet. I know I can have an account and see what my friends are Tweeting. I am intrigued with the 140-characters-at-a-time poems, stories, novellas and novels. And no doubt I'd be tweeting away if I still lived in town and had a cell phone... but there you go, live on an island...

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