of fake Twitter and Facebook accounts are feeding a shadowy global
marketplace for social media fraud, a new investigation has revealed.
York Times report
released today, states that up to 48 million of Twitter’s claimed 330
million monthly active users are actually fake. That is nearly 15 per
cent of all Twitter accounts.
has refuted the figure, but the platform is far from alone.
revealed to investors that it hosted up to 60 million fake accounts,
more than twice as much as previously estimated.
new report claims these fake accounts, also known as bots, are
influential in shaping public opinion, amplifying messages, and
spreading fake news.
can also defraud businesses and ruin reputations.
and Twitter have vowed to get tough on fake accounts. Source:
US Senator Mark Warner, a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, which has been investigating the spread of fake accounts on
Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, told the Times that
the creating and selling of them falls into “legal grey zone”.
continued viability of fraudulent accounts and interactions on social
media platforms — and the professionalisation of these fraudulent
services — is an indication that there’s still much work to do,” he
told the newspaper.
report also looks into Devumi, one of the most popular companies for
buying social media followers — which reportedly has 3.5 million fake
accounts on offer for its clients.
reportedly sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities,
businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert
The Times analysis
shows that the company has provided customers with more than 200
million Twitter followers.
there are some big names in among those.
+ Juliet star John Leguizamo has Devumi
followers, according to the report. So do Michael Dell, the computer
billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the American football commentator and
former Ravens linebacker.
Ireland, the one-time swimsuit model who now presides over a
half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of
fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the
Leal, who works in the adult film industry and tweets from @PornoDan,
told the Times,
“Countless public figures, companies, music acts, etc. purchase
followers. If Twitter was to purge everyone who did so there would be
hardly any of them on it.”
Times claims John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. Source: News
Times also claims that foreign powers are also using the fake profiles
to spread propaganda.
states Devumi’s products are used by an editor at China’s state-run
news agency, Xinhua, paid the company for hundreds of thousands of
followers and retweets on Twitter.
adviser to Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, also bought tens of
thousands of followers and retweets for Mr. Moreno’s campaign accounts
during last year’s elections.
Devumi’s founder, German Calas, denied that his company sold fake
followers and said he knew nothing about social identities stolen from
allegations are false, and we do not have knowledge of any such
activity,” Mr Calas told the Times in
an email exchange in November.
researchers, led by Dr Diego Fregolente Mendes de Oliveira, found
social media users were struggling “to cope with the information
overload caused by the messages that flood our screens” and did not
question information sources or whether it had been verified by
“bot” accounts were also sharing fraudulent stories in greater
numbers, it found, adding to users’ confusion and exhaustion.
results suggest that one way to increase the discriminative power of
online social media would be to reduce information load by limiting
the number of posts in the system,” the report found.
bot accounts controlled by software make up a significant portion of
online profiles, and many of them flood social media with high volumes
of low quality information to manipulate public discourse.”
with Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson.