Fake twitter accounts: how they make money

So, I recently set up my twitter account, made my 1st tweet, followed a couple celebrities and logged out. The next day I was surprised to see over 6 new followers! All people I didn’t know, all female, all supposedly attractive and all interested in what I had to say.

So fake.

They are all fake twitter accounts. They scraped my twitter account from a celebrities list of followers and then followed the most recent names found. Why? What’s the point? How do they make money? I soon found out.

These particular bots are aiming to achieve credibility. By using stock or stolen images, following other twitter accounts and posting vapid tweets from a database, they trick people into thinking they’re real. Some other naive twitter users follow them back and of course bots follow other bots they encounter too.

Once ‘seasoned’, the bot owners can sell packages of follow links from these fake twitter accounts. These artificially inflate the number of followers to the buyer, re-tweet the buyer’s tweets to increase his/her exposure and also, in large enough numbers, set a new trend on twitter. The last one is especially useful for certain timed events.

They’re just kind of annoying for the average user – that is if they even know they’re being followed by fake twitter accounts. Some glaring ways to see if those twitter profiles are fake:

  1. Their background image is a solid color.
  2. Their profile pic is the default egg, or a stock/stolen image. Check by using ‘right click->Copy image URL’ and pasting it on a Google images search. (Make sure to click the camera icon to search by an actual image.)
  3. Their name is uncommon. Most ‘real names’ are already taken, so ‘Henrieta’ and ‘Opalina’ kind of stand out.
  4. Their twitter profile has a large amount of follow updates in a short amount of time:

    Henrieta Gooderham followed Marie, SJElliott Obama2012, Caro and 91 others

  5. Their tweets are aimed at nobody in particular. No interaction with others.

 

Just know whenever you follow a high traffic twitter profile like a celebrity, you’ll probably have some fake twitter accounts follow you back. The question is, do you care?

John Holt

I’m a software engineer and web designer in Fort Pierce, Florida (winter) and Franklin, New Hampshire (summer). Super Blog Me is a space where I can brainstorm my ideas on WordPress development, interface design and other things I do with my life.

One Comment:

  1. Makes me wonder how many of my followers are bots. Am I a bot?! *existential crisis*

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