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Ketty Colom

Ketty Colom Digital Marketing Specialist

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The Business of Fake Followers

After reading many blogs about the topic of fake followers, I decided to do some investigating on the topic for myself. I found that the business of buying and selling fake Twitter followers is booming, according to a study by Barracuda Labs: Among the top 100 Google search results for the term "buy Twitter followers" are roughly 58 websites and 20 eBay sellers that offer various bundles of fake followers for sale. The average cost of 1,000 fake Twitter followers is just $18.

The study began in May 2012 when Barracuda Labs set up three Twitter accounts and purchased between 20,000-70,000 followers for each account on eBay and Google. After analyzing these followers’ profiles and tweets this is what Barracuda Found:

Dealers (those users who create fake accounts and sell followings):

  • There are 20 eBay sellers and 58 websites (within top 100 returns of searching “buy twitter followers” in Google) where people can buy (fake) followers

  • Twitter username is used to purchase, no authentication is required

  • The average price of buying 1000 followers is $18

  • A Dealer can control as many as ~150,000 or more Twitter followers (contact@kashifrox)

  • A Dealer can earn as much as $800/day for 7 weeks of selling followings if they can control  20,000 fake accounts (estimated on several random fake accounts reaching 2000 followings in 7 weeks and assume each following involved a minimum $20 purchase)

  • In addition to selling followings from these fake accounts, there are numerous opportunities for expansion into other services: selling tweets/re-tweets to earn additional profits

Abusers are defined as those users who buy followers (most of which are fake) in order to look more popular or to use the accounts for selling ads:

  • Roughly 11,283 Abusers were identified, each with an average following of 48,885.
  • 53% of Abusers have 4,000-26,000 followers.
  • 75% of Abusers display a URL in their profile, compared with 31% of Twitter users overall.

Fake Accounts are those created by dealers for selling followings or tweeting. In total, Barracuda found 72,212 unique fake accounts; among them:

  • 61% were less than three months old (as of April 16, 2012).
  • 55% had roughly 2,000 followers.

Barracuda also reviewed the 17% spike in a presidential candidate's Twitter following. You can read more about it here (its towards the bottom of the study).

What do you think of this study?

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