Two issues, one Times story (good one): one, people’s online personas are misappropriated for nefarious profits by our robot “friends;” two, real people pay for fake followers. The horrors of the socials scene:
The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. In most cases, the records show, they purchased their own followers. In others, their employees, agents, public relations companies, family members or friends did the buying. For just pennies each — sometimes even less — Devumi offers Twitter followers, views on YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, the music-hosting site, and endorsements on LinkedIn, the professional-networking site.
The actor John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. So do Michael Dell, the computer billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the football commentator and former Ravens linebacker. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who today presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the show “American Ninja Warrior.” Even a Twitter board member, Martha Lane Fox, has some.
At a time when Facebook, Twitter and Google are grappling with an epidemic of political manipulation and fake news, Devumi’s fake followers also serve as phantom foot soldiers in political battles online. Devumi’s customers include both avid supporters and fervent critics of President Trump, and both liberal cable pundits and a reporter at the alt-right bastion Breitbart. Randy Bryce, an ironworker seeking to unseat Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, purchased Devumi followers in 2015, when he was a blogger and labor activist. Louise Linton, the wife of the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, bought followers when she was trying to gain traction as an actress.
I tried carefully to craft a craziness no one would steal. You, some of you, might recall that, a few years back, I lost “perrinlovett.com” though lazy inattentiveness. Some pirate bought it for $30 and then offered to sell it back to me, once .me got rolling well, for $2,000-ish. Ha! Now they call trying to pay me to take it! I have my price.
But my followers do not. No fakes here or on YT or at FP. Here, of my massive three-man following, only one account is a fake I set up with a floating email. One is the real me – needs to monitor, etc. The other guy is in Russia I think.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to contact the click farm in Indones.