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Episode 114: Antitrust the process

May 21, 2019

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What’s the value of a fake social media follower?

Adriene Hill Dec 11, 2014
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It seems we have an unlimited appetite for softly filtered photos. Instagram now has 300-million users, making it bigger than Twitter.

The photo-sharing site has announced its working on removing fake accountsNo biggie, you think?  Who cares about a bunch of bots and spammers?

Turns out there’s a lot of value in fake social media accounts.

1. Fake followers can attract real followers.

“No one wants to go to a party with only one or two people,” says Ari Lightman, a professor of digital media at Carnegie Mellon University.  

2. Fake followers can also attract real money.

Alice Wright, who runs a snarky blog about bloggers called Get Off My Internets, says bloggers often juice their social media stats.  “They have to have the numbers,” says Wright, in order to grab advertisers. “It’s not just about your website stats anymore, it’s about social media.”

3. Fake accounts make social media sites and services look bigger

“It’s always interesting to me when a company goes after the fraud,” says USC social media professor Karen North, “because at the beginning it’s the fraud that helped them.” Fake accounts can make the total number of people using a service look larger, “it’s like everybody is there, look at all the big numbers,” says North. A company or brand can start tossing those fake accounts, says North, when it’s popular enough to be popular without them.

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