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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?

Views: 1309

Tags: fake, followers, of, statistics, twitter

Comment

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Comment by Tom Gorham on October 19, 2012 at 5:38pm

I don't worry about fake followers.  I worry about my friends.  No problem!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 19, 2012 at 5:17pm

Well... I am here to report that my month long experiment with TrueTwit was a dismal failure.  I thought it would be an effective way of preventing "Fake Followers" but all it did was irritate many real people in the car business and I probably ost about 200 new followers because of it.  Many Twitter users sent me emails and tweet mentions telling me they did not like and would not participate in such a verification program.  

Obviously, we all know how to NOT do something  like buying fake followers, but does anyone have an effective process for preventing people who are not in your best interest from following your twitter profile? I know how to do it one at a time, but are there any apps or systems that can be used which do not irritate real people working in your industry?

Comment by David Johnson on October 19, 2012 at 2:12pm

Am I the only one that finds it amusing how in the comment section of this post the conversation turned to buying likes on Facebook and why they are good or bad... and now, not long after these "conversations" took place, we see Facebook cracking down and removing these. Of course, Facebook has always been against the buying and selling of likes but now they are doing something about it.

Comment by Tom Gorham on October 19, 2012 at 1:26pm

LOL!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 2, 2012 at 6:05pm

Because of the discussions on AM around "Fake Followers" on Twitter, I decided to prevent being followed by inactive or bogus Twitter users by trying out "TrueTwit Validation Service"... Check out these results from page 1 of 9 for mu TrueTwit service... Looks like I am doing a good job of preventing people from following me on Twitter! Looking at the majority of people who attempted to follow me, who would not go through the validation process, what would you do? Should I keep TrueTwit or get rid of it and let anybody follow me?

Follower   Verified?   Message Sent?   Following? Blocked?
AutoAcesOnline No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
BusinessSmack No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
yBCtv No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
CertsUnlimited No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
TJWelch Yes Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
lgoering Yes Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
beaufollett No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
EricTigner1 No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
DavidBruceAuto Yes Yes

Sent 10/01/12
Yes

Unfollow?
No

Block?
markboyd No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
SheSingsSweetly Yes Yes

Sent 10/01/12
Yes

Unfollow?
No

Block?
Drury_Debbie No Yes

Sent 10/01/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
RameyChevrolet No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
Andrew_Longman No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
emptyhouse_hold No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
BreanaAlderton No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
PRKairi No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
Selena_Lapage No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
well_optimized No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
JameKrah No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
GrantCardone Yes Yes

Sent 09/30/12
Yes

Unfollow?
No

Block?
BackYardFarmBks No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
Hey0oxjon No Yes

Sent 09/30/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
TheChromer No Yes

Sent 09/29/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
RamseyDogg No Yes

Sent 09/29/12
No

Follow?
No

Block?
Comment by Doug Davis on September 6, 2012 at 11:00am

I have a passion for the internet but my experience is sales and marketing, not public relations. When I hear that a dealership actually spends money for fake followers and likes, it just doesn't compute. When, I hear of "results", I think in terms of sales. Having been in large metro stores, I relegated all the social media to my Customer Relations Manager. I really only focused attention on the review sites.

Comment by Ketty Colom on August 30, 2012 at 8:51am

Hi guys,

Sorry I haven't commented in a while, was attending a B2B Marketing Summit. =) 

That being said, I had to read through 3 pages of comments...=/

When it comes to social media, everyone has their own opinions, statistics, and research to back it up. Does it mean it HAS to work for you? No. If you found your niche and you're getting results that your happy with, why change it? 

By the way, if anyone is interested in reading blogs about the summit I attended you can go here and here.

Comment by Tom Gorham on August 28, 2012 at 4:02pm

Micah, thank you.  I really enjoyed the article and much of it was common sense.  I've never truly understood Klout.  I always looked at it as entertainment.  When I heard that some employers were looking at it, I was surprised.  I find when I'm doing the things I love online and socializing with my friends in the industry, my score goes up... much to my surprise.

Comment by David Johnson on August 28, 2012 at 6:14am

Nice share Micah!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on August 27, 2012 at 7:14am

Tim, when you use words like "hypocrisy" and "patronize" . . . well, you can certainly pick a fight with yourself on those words, thanks.  I'm not really interested.  I stand by every word I wrote here.  100%.  

Thanks

Ralph, I think you got what I meant, and I appreciate your response.  No worries.

Thanks!

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