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The World of Fake Followers

As shocking as it may sound but the word “feku(a term coined for Narendra Modi by the twitterati meaning a person who constantly brags and lies), applies more to the world of Twitter than Modi himself.

We have all seen how the social networking site, Twitter, has become the battleground for our politicians, and from the looks of it the two bigwigs of Indian politics, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, are putting in a lot of effort to make their online presence felt.

So far, the BJP is far ahead of the Congress, thanks to their flag bearer Mr. Modi who has more than two million followers (at 12 pm on October 15, he had 2,560,563 followers). However, there is another side to this story.

According to a report in The Hindu, online applications like “Twitter Audit” or “The Fake Follower Check of Status People” show that most of Modi’s followers are not real. It goes onto to say:

“A query on www.statuspeople.com with Mr. Modi’s username returned these results about his Twitter followers last week: Fake-76 per cent, Inactive-18 per cent, Good-6 per cent. Similarly, Twitter Audit gives Mr. Modi an audit score of 32 per cent with 322,788 ‘real’ and 685,925 ‘fake’ followers.”

Modi-Twitter-audit

So as you can see Modi’s fake followers outnumber the real ones, but the Congress has nothing to feel ecstatic about. Because the Congress’s popular twitterati, Shashi Tharoor’s stats are no better; according to another report his Twitter Audit score is just 35 percent.

Shashi-Tharoor-Twitter-audit

If such is the case of Indian politicians, what about international figures? A little digging showed that the US President, Barack Obama’s score is just 49 percent:

Obama-Twitter-Audit

You can check the stats of other international politicians here.

So are these politicians inflating their numbers just to beat their opponent?

Well we can’t be sure of that, but one thing that’s very obvious is that buying Twitter followers isn’t impossible. According to this report, you can buy 1000 Twitter followers for five dollars from sites like www.fiverr.com. The site also sells Facebook likes and Youtube views to add to your existing social media presence. Most of the times these fake followers are cyberbots, i.e. computer generated identities, but you can also buy real followers by paying a little more from sites like www.buyrealmarketing.com.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this isn’t considered illegal in any of the countries because it is not as if these politicians are buying votes. People seem to think that if paying money to promote a Facebook post is legal, then so is buying followers because in both these cases the ultimate aim is to garner more likes. Not to mention that in today’s time a person is considered serious only if he has a Twitter account and a decent number of followers.

Last year, international comedian Daniel Nainan accepted in an interview to The New York Times that he bought Twitter followers because he thought it would boost his business.

“There’s a tremendous cachet associated with having a large number,” said Mr. Nainan. Adding to this he said, “When people see that you have that many followers, they’re like: ‘Oh, my goodness, this guy is popular. I might want to book him.’ ”

But there is a flipside to this as well. Remember how Mitt Romney made news when his Twitter account suddenly garnered 1,116,000 followers in one day? Apart from being termed a fraud, buying followers runs some bigger risks like hacking and phishing.

Barracuda Networks, a security solutions company conducted a study to unearth the dangers of buying followers. In this study the chief researcher of Barracuda labs, Paul Judge, explains:

“Did you pay your followers with a credit card? If so, a hacker who makes fake followers now has your credit card number.”

Explaining further he says:

“Hackers spend a lot of time preying on social networks, and they’ll try any method to do it. And when we looked at Twitter, we saw that attackers have become very efficient at utilizing the viral features in Twitter to carry own attacks, which are found in those fake follower accounts.”

So two things that are clear from all of this is that, one, the number of Twitter followers can be deceptive, and two, quantity is never better than quality. But is there a way to put a stop to this practice?

As of now, no, but as the nature and use of social media continues to change, chances are that buying Twitter followers may soon become a thing of the past.

But one thing that we all need to remember is that though buying followers seems like an easy path it is still a form of cheating because as this journalist rightly says, “When it comes to social media, all that twitters is not gold.”

Shraddha Jandial

What are the different ways by which we can put a stop to the practice of buying Twitter followers? Write your opinions in the comment box below.

Image Source [http://core3solutions.com/web/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Take-On-Battling-Fake-Twitter-Followers-3.jpg]

 

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