About 2 years ago I wrote a post about fake accounts on social media where I addressed this concept of accounts following you on Instagram and Twitter and, if you decide to hook up with them, instantly dropping you after the fact. A lot of those accounts were fake to begin with, while some of the people are real but someone else is running them and doing the fake follow and drop on their behalf.
It seems that things are worse off than that these days. My friend Jesan sent me a link from the New York Times talking about celebrities buying followers to pad their numbers so they look more impressive to the real people that follow them. After that I was talking to him and another friend named Terri about something called Tweetdecking (not the Twitter product) which involves groups of teens that charge people to get their posts retweeted so they look like they’re big time. I followed that up by sharing another article where my state, New York, is going to investigate a company sells Twitter followers by stealing the profiles of real people and setting up new accounts that look real.
And I thought fake comments were bad.
Like almost everyone else, I love the idea of having thousands of people connected with me, following me, and sharing the things I put out. I’d love for that number to be in the tens of thousands… heck, the millions!
My problem is that I have standards. I don’t follow “everyone” just because they’re famous. I did follow one person who’s famous before he decided to follow me; that was cool. What’s more cool is that he’s only following just over 1,000 people and I’m one of those few people; gotta love it!
Jesan also said this yesterday:
I think popularity has always been overrated, even in the old media world of 3 “authoritative” channels and 3 “trustworthy” news sources. Popularity is hard. Being unremarkable (meaning not worth remarking upon) is default.
He makes a great point. A couple of weeks ago when I wrote about world society and social media, I alluded to the story about Jake Paul and his showing a suicide victim on his YouTube channel (which summarily caused him a lot of grief). What I didn’t talk about was his brother Logan, who did his own stupid stunt that’s landed him a class action lawsuit from his neighbors. Stupid young people who think they’re privileged enough to get away with anything because they’re popular… unfortunately, it’s working out for both of them, so it’s doubtful either of them will learn the lessons they need to learn.
Of course it begs the question as to just how many of their 15 and 10 million followers are real. Whereas Twitter sometimes does a cull of fake accounts, I’m not sure that YouTube does the same. Instagram does, Facebook occasionally does, but when it comes to real clout YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
The problem for the rest of us is that there’s no way we’ll know whether a celebrity is faking their follower counts or not unless the media outs them. We might find a fake account following them but that doesn’t mean they’re in on it. It’s possible that some of us who are less than perspicacious might have a few fake accounts following us on social media sites; that doesn’t make us phonies or fakers either.
The best I can offer is to not be cowed by the numbers you see others might have that you don’t. One reason is that it’s hard to talk to that many people if they’re real, and certainly not benefiting anyone if they’re fake. The other reason is that those people aren’t the ones you need to concern yourself with anyway; real or not, numbers like that probably won’t get you anywhere anyway.
By the way, I know I’m not the only one who got one of these. In case you didn’t, check this out:
Dear Mitch Mitchell,
As part of our recent work to understand Russian-linked activities on Twitter during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.
Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing you because we have reason to believe that you either followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked content from these accounts during the election period. This is purely for your own information purposes, and is not related to a security concern for your account.
We are sharing this information so that you can learn more about these accounts and the nature of the Russian propaganda effort. You can see examples of content from these suspended accounts on our blog if you’re interested.
People look to Twitter for useful, timely, and appropriate information. We are taking active steps to stop malicious accounts and Tweets from spreading, and we are determined to keep ahead of the tactics of bad actors. For example, in recent months we have developed new techniques to identify accounts manipulating our platform, have improved our process for challenging suspicious accounts, and have introduced new measures designed to identify and take action on coordinated malicious activity. In 2018, we are building on these improvements. Our blog also contains more information about these efforts.
People come to Twitter to see what’s happening in the world. We are committed to making it the best place to do that and to being transparent with the people who use and trust our platform.
Find your audience the real way; then you’ll know those are people truly interested in what you have to offer. If you have something to offer that can bring you monetary gains, that’s even better because those folks will come back and buy from you again; nothing’s sweeter than that!