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The Follower Factory

Everyone wants to be popular online. Some even pay for it. Inside social media’s black market. Via The New York Times.

‘But on Twitter, there is a version of Jessica that none of her friends or family would recognize. While the two Jessicas share a name, photograph and whimsical bio—“I have issues”—the other Jessica promoted accounts hawking Canadian real estate investments, cryptocurrency and a radio station in Ghana. The fake Jessica followed or retweeted accounts using Arabic and Indonesian, languages the real Jessica does not speak. While she was a 17-year-old high school senior, her fake counterpart frequently promoted graphic pornography, retweeting accounts called Squirtamania and Porno Dan.’

‘More than a hundred self-described influencers—whose market value is even more directly linked to their follower counts on social media—have purchased Twitter followers from Devumi.’

‘Marketing consultants sometimes buy followers for themselves, too, in effect purchasing the evidence of their supposed expertise. In 2015, Jeetendr Sehdev, a former adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who calls himself “the world’s leading celebrity branding authority,” began buying hundreds of thousands of fake followers from Devumi. ... He did not respond to requests for comment. But in his recent best-selling book, “The Kim Kardashian Principle: Why Shameless Sells,” he had a different explanation for his rising follower count. “My social media following exploded,” Mr. Sehdev claimed, because he had discovered the true secret to celebrity influence: “Authenticity is the key.”’

If any of this intrigues you, do read the whole thing.

The books I read in 2017

The books I read in 2017

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