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The (F)Law of Fake Followers:
How Buying Internet Popularity Could
Endanger All Social Media
Presented by:
Andrew M. Hinkes, Esq.
What do Mitt Romney, Comedian Dan Nainian
and British Law Firm Blavo & Co. have in
 Busted!
• All were caught with suspicious jumps in their
Twitter follower counts as a result of buying
• Romney- 100k new twitter followers in a weekend.
• Nainan- admitted to buying 220k followers
• NY Times: “Worst Kept Secret in the
So, what are we selling here?
 Likes, Views, Follows
• How much?
– As little as a penny per according to Will
Mitchell, Clear Presence Media
– Average price $18/1000 follows- Barracuda
What do you get for your
 Bot or fake profile vs. targeted follower
 Fake/Real?
 Twitter is especially vulnerable
Why are fakes a problem?
 The Hans & Franz Theory:
 Lying isn’t so bad… right?
Down the rabbit hole…
Down the rabbit hole…Part 2
Who would do such a thing?:
Down the rabbit hole…Part 3
Category 1- “Creative” people:
“A lo [sic] of creative people think that the only thing needed to gain fame is
talent and for most of them, paying to be fake famous would is considered
cheating or being dishonest towards their artsy fans and followers. Now the
minority of them would actually understand the marketing side of it and be
willing to pay to get fake twitter followers to get the ball rolling and look
more credible, but they would keep it secret to not offend their fellow artists
and not be judged as cheaters as well.”
Down the rabbit hole…Part 4
Category 2- Entrepreneurs, Businesses and Companies
“…They understand that having zero followers on their Twitter account shows
their new potential customers that their business is a startup. No one wants to
risk their money doing business with a new company, everyone would rather
deal with an established company that built their name and reputation. The
good old business saying “Fake it til you make it” is pretty self-explanatory in
this situation.
Paying to be fake popular on Twitter and having buying followers that will fake
follow their account makes complete sense to them, this would have for effect
to make heir brand look more established and gain trust from their new
potential customers, increasing their brand credibility and most likely increasing
their conversion rates. They not only buy fake twitter followers but would also
do it on Facebook and Youtube, creating a whole marketing campaign of fake
popularity which, if used in moderation and in conjunction with classic
marketing methods, would definitely help increase their revenues.”
The Rabbit Hole is not the Best Part
of Town…
The Downside to Buying Fakes:
a. Bots don’t shop or talk
b. Account slide
c. Disconnect between purchased platform and other platform
d. Boobytrapping/ “The Critical Boomerang”
e. False and Unprofessional Brand Representation
f. Is it really working?
g. SpearPhishing
- Twitter is a revolutionary platform that enables a level of
instantaneous uncensored global communication, with massive
commercial implications
- Tremendous growth in corporate spending to create and tap into
new markets- Duke Fuqua School of Business CMO Study- expected
tripling of expenditures in marketing social media
- Anything that places the quality of crowd-sourced endorsement
as an indicator of effectiveness of social media marketing into
question could negatively impact the entire commercial
ecosystem and kill growth opportunities
Risks of Fake Followers
1. Waste a ton of money for no return
2. If you’re selling, get sued by Twitter
3. If you’re buying, lose your account privileges
4. Read the fine print
Twitter vs Skootle Corp.
Sued Skootle in Northern District of
California Federal Court alleging breach of
contract, unfair or deceptive business
practices, and fraud related to use of fake
Twitter accounts
Your account is on the line
You are agreeing to indemnify
What if you thought you bought real
followers but got fakes?
- Interstate Commerce- Federal Court
- Fraudulent Inducement
- Breach of Contract
Twitter, heal thyself
A. Twitter needs to step up reporting and response
B. Change its system
1. Caps on follows for those who don’t tweet
2. Require periodic validation
3. Monitor sudden irrational activity surges
C. Require authorization or a password to buy followers for
a Twitter account
Who has the First Question?
Presented by:
Andrew M. Hinkes, Esq.

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