Florida Firm Sells Twitter Followers and Bots That Retweet Celebrities, Executives, and ‘Influencers’
Over the weekend, The New York Times published an expose on an obscure American company called Devumi that sells Twitter followers and bots that automatically retweet celebrities, executives, social media “influencers” and anyone else who will pay. From the report: Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found. The accounts that most resemble real people reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis. […] 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. Hours after the report was published, New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, opened an investigation into Devumi. “Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We’re opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities.”
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