Last week I read a blog post by Randy Hilarski titled Fake Followers an Epidemic of Narcissistic Proportions. In that post he talked about the rise of fake Instagram accounts that follow all of us, using the avatars of very pretty women. It’s pretty easy to tell these accounts are fake because… well, let’s face the fact that suddenly having a stunning woman with a foreign name following you is pretty suspect. If you need to you can click on the name and notice there’s only a few images along with a fake link to follow if you want more… trust me, never click on those links.

Chris Akans wearing Czech Gas Mask
Dan Klimke via Compfight

Randy’s comment was on the people who see these fake accounts, are shooting for higher follower accounts, accept them, probably add them back and try to get more. The narcissism part of it all is the chase for numbers, quality or not, because in some minds numbers equate to some kind of status.

I’m going to address that part first; he’s absolutely correct. I mean, we look at a blog’s ranking. We look at how many Twitter followers a person has. We look to see how many people are connected to us on LinkedIn and Google Plus. Instagram; pshaw! lol It’s not total narcissism because, for some people, the more connections they have the better the possibility of making money, even big money.

Yet, there are a lot of people who fall for “fake”.

I can’t tell you how many blogs I visit where there are tons of spam comments that sometimes the blog owner has responded to without recognizing them, or totally ignored because maybe they never respond to comments and are happy for whatever activity they’re getting.

I can’t tell you how many people I see on Twitter that have tens of thousands of people following them, and when you look at some of the accounts following you see a lot of bots and accounts with that stupid egg thing.

Sometimes I look at my numbers and think “man, I wish I could figure out how to make that bigger”. However, it’s usually a fleeting thought. Y’all know by now that I’m an engager; if there’s no possibility that we’ll ever talk I rarely stick with you for long. On Twitter, if the first time someone wants to talk to me is via a direct message rather than in the open, I’m probably unfollowing unless I have a special reason to stay connected… but it’s rare.

A few nights ago I happened to have Tweetdeck open; that’s what I use to connect on Twitter. I heard an alert, so I went to check it out. It turned out that someone had liked a post I’d shared there a couple of days earlier. Then, over the next 20 minutes or so there were 34 more people who liked the same exact post.

Whereas most people might have been flattered, I’m a bit more skeptical than that. If I had more than 100K people following me and it happened, I might have just passed it off. However, I decided to take a better look for my own edification.

2014-08-01 Castlefest 2014, Cherilyn
Qsimple, Memories For The
Future Photography
via Compfight
she doesn’t want to know you…

What I noticed is that every single account that liked that article had a cartoon avatar. There wasn’t a single real person’s image on any of them. Also, none of them were connected with me, including the first person. When I checked a few of those accounts I noticed they were following way more people than they had following them. That’s usually a major sign that an account is either fake, or at the least a bit dodgy.

In this case, the idea of narcissism comes back into play, trying to make people feel good and hoping they’ll follow the account back to the profile. You can bet each of them has a link that will take you to either some kind of sales site or spam/malware site. Since I was only looking at a couple of accounts to verify my thoughts, I wasn’t inclined to click on a link to see what it would take me. Truthfully, I’d have had to slap myself silly if I did. 🙂

Although it happens in greater numbers on Twitter and Instagram, there are lots of fake accounts that try to hook up with us on Facebook, Google Plus and even LinkedIn. Many times they don’t have an avatar. Sometimes you’ll notice the account was recently created. Facebook gets sneakier because sometimes it’s the name of someone you’re already connected to, and you wonder if that person killed their account and came back if it’s someone you haven’t connected with in a while.

I’m not going to denigrate anyone who wants big numbers. Even though it’s not always all it seems to be cracked up to me, if it’s legitimate it can look pretty impressive.

I’m just putting out the warning to watch out for fake accounts, block or report them, and don’t click on links from anyone you don’t know (and sometimes from people you know whose post seems out of character). Be wise and be smart; that’s all I’m asking. 🙂
 

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