Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Twitter The Almighty Buck

Twitter's Fake Followers Watching IPO Closely 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-real dept.
kraksmoka writes "Is your social media pro 'making it go viral' by pressing a button instead of interacting with a real audience? The purchase and use of fake followers by small to mid-sized social media agencies is rising on Twitter and there is concern that the growth of fake followers can't be stopped. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Twitter's Fake Followers Watching IPO Closely

Comments Filter:
  • by paiute (550198) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @12:41PM (#45384725)
    As a fake investor, I will follow this development closely.
  • /. seems to be falling behind in another important trend. Virtually all the posters here appear genuine, which must be holding back the site ranking somehow.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Interesting problem: many of the posts on your site are faked by interested parties trying to get an edge

      Boring problem: there are no fake posts b/c interested parties don't care about your site

    • by sinij (911942)
      I spent my reward on ALE and WHORES!
    • Paid commentors (Score:5, Interesting)

      by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:12PM (#45384953) Homepage Journal

      Virtually all the posters here appear genuine

      browse at -1 and have a look at the comments...i mod often and you're right /. is *definitely* more genuine than most... /. is crawling with paid Public Relations staffers (Fox News is def. not the only one to do this), paid commentors, and maybe even an actual experimental bot (APK...)

      They ruin the top of the comments on anything to do with Snowden, the oil industry, and the Trayvon Martin case type stuff....techies havent' gotten *more* conservative in the last 10 years...but /. comments on average have...it's because of PR and paid commentors

      We *genuine* humans need to be more discerning than ever...there are people, much like us, whose entire job is to create false perceptions on things like /.

      Its kind of important, for you know, idea neutrality that we all be smarter, respond to only comments that are value added and of course...and I need this advice as much as anyone...

      ***DONT FEED THE TROLLS***

      • by sinij (911942)
        /. crowd is getting older, and older you get more likely are you to become/identify conservative. There is actual research backing this up, but I am too lazy to look it up for you. I think this is why we see a lot of TP nuttery appearing over here and not because paid shills and PR firms.
        • those studies are not at all informative to this discussion & /. definitely has had an uptick in paid commenters (look at UID #'s & it tells the whole story for you)

          they measure **self reported attitudes** and have not been replicated b/c...they're not worth a researcher's time...

          I'm in my mid-30s now and there is no way any of my older geek friends have gotten **more Republican** in their personal philosophy...from pro-choice to pro-life? if anything you can see a measurable move towards atheism...

          • Eh, maybe. The Slashdot user base had really dropped over the last few years and few influential tech people hang here anymore. I don't really see us as a worthy demographic for paid shills.

            There might be a few, but it's nothing like it was in even 5 years ago.

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Reality was the paid trolls lacked the intellectual capacity to actively troll /. without being recognised and the product they were promoting targeted, not the trolls themselves, as this is a pointless activity but the promoted product. They didn't just give up though, they attempted to kill /. by flooding the first few pages of comments with back and fourth idiot twitter like chatter but when whole threads started getting killed, it disrupted that tactic. So paying for promotion was doing more harm than

              • They didn't just give up though, they attempted to kill /. by flooding the first few pages of comments with back and fourth idiot twitter like chatter but when whole threads started getting killed, it disrupted that tactic.

                you summarize the history of paid commenters on /. recently really well...especially threading the needle and explaining the above section...

                that's high level stuff and yes I agree I saw it used...unfortunately I still see it happening to this day

                we're getting wiser to it for sure, your c

        • also, those studies are global-oriented with their language and issues...

          France can be considered "socially conservative" by the definition and normalization those tests use...

          American "social conservatives" and French "social conservatives" disagree on virtually every issue a US conservative finds important...guns, abortion, civil rights, nudity/porn, religion...

          you're confusing two very different concepts

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        Age often brings more conservative values. Slashdotters are getting older. Some of us always have had conservative values on many issues.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Age doesn't bring conservative values so much as some people are cunts who pretended to play for the other team while it supported their interests.

          So, a poor student is going to get the support of people with a social conscience. But once you have money, "fuck that shit lol i'm making bank", &c.

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            Maybe your idea of a "social conscience" isn't the same as mine. For first world inhabitants, mine has the concepts of being responsible, self-reliant, taking advantage of opportunity and working hard so as not to be a burden on society. Maybe you think such attitudes are being a "cunt", but I call them good old fashioned values.

            • You've just listed typical communistic values. Indeed, "from each according to his ability" involves the greatest possible self-reliance and working hard so as not to be a burden.

              The main difference between all the mainstream philosophies is in terms of how much work each thinks needs to be done. The capitalist thinks they only need to work for themselves for long enough to hoard and invest; the socialist thinks they need to work for as long as possible for themselves; and the communist they should work as

              • by iggymanz (596061)

                words like "communist" and "capitalist" and "socialist" are those of theory, in practice all those systems have privileged elite at top of the pyramid who take away opportunity and rights of others to continue their power, all those have ethnic or other distinct groups that are more privileged, and "some are more equal than others" as the joke goes.

                • Re:Paid commentors (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @02:33PM (#45385517)

                  Yes exactly. Every scheme has "salt of the earth" people who just want to do an honest day's work, exploitative dickheads at the top, and a mixture half way between the two. That Bible-bashing gun-worshipper is probably just as decent, honest and hardworking as the girl who makes peace signs and sticks flowers in her hair, but they are taught to hate each other.

          • It brings more conservative values as you learn with age that more people are sponging off of you. "A poor student"? I smell a vested interest.
            • Re:Paid commentors (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @02:35PM (#45385537)

              I'm as far from "poor student" as you can get, so no vested interest here!

              If there is anything you should learn with age, it's JUST HOW MUCH you owe to other people, without whom you'd be scraping around in the dirt, no matter your personal opinion of your own genius. If you think that people are sponging off you, you're learning nothing at all, and just taking advantage of others.

        • by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:37PM (#45385141) Homepage Journal

          I addressed the "more conservative" thing above to another commenter...the definition of 'conservative' in those studies and 'conservative' in US politics is **very** different and completely unfit for comparison...

          It measures 'conservative' in the sense of risk taking...like would you cash some of your kid's college fund to invest in a stock tip from a trusted friend?

          younger...more likely
          older...less likely

          That doesn't mean that getting older makes you favor policies that protect companies like M$ and become pro-life!!!!

          Those studies mean 'conservative' in risk-taking...not politics and policy!!!!

        • Age often brings more conservative values.

          No, but as time passes, the definition of "conservative" changes.

          Ditto the definition of "liberal".

      • Re:Paid commentors (Score:5, Interesting)

        by game kid (805301) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:26PM (#45385067) Homepage

        A moderator a day keeps the Real Name policies away.

      • I wouldn't be surprised if your statements were correct, but I'd like to see proof of this.
      • ... because any opinion differing wildly from yours must be that of a shill, bot, or troll? Accept the fact that Slashdot has gone mainstream and there are people with a diverse set of political and social ideals here now. Or, continue to think that your opinion is the only one. Your call.

        I can tell you I work in IT, and at my office the "left wing" line of thinking is definitely more rare than the right.
    • by antdude (79039)

      I am fake. I am not real. What is real?

  • Can someone explain to me what is the value for a company to have a bunch of fake followers on their twitter account?
    CEO's brag about it at their Sunday golf games?

    • This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.
      • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @12:50PM (#45384791)

        Real people are more likely to follow something that seems popular, no matter how broken it is.

        See also Microsoft, Christianity, the Soviet Union, capitalism, and American Football.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.

        I think there is research out there showing that people are more likely to follow accounts that have a lot of followers. So, what you do is hire a firm to give you a bunch of fake followers in the hopes that real people start following you.

        • You're right on the "research out there". Social networks tend to grow not so much at their edges ( where the less well-connected nodes are ) but on the inside, at the already well-connected nodes. Just read it last night, a compendium edited by one IBM guy, Aggarwal is his name if I remember correctly.
      • This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. Except here the followers are not real and so people buying this SEO snake oil are being ripped-off.

        I noticed something similar on a photo-sharing website I use. I noticed that I had a lot of followers. WTF? Who are these people? When I started looking into it, my "followers" had posted no pictures or had a page of a couple of random generic pictures. And I noticed that my followers all had followers who had followers . . . . etc.

        LOL.

        Fake people following other fake people.

        • by plover (150551)

          Most of those fake people were created as a part of a campaign to establish a higher Google page rank. There's an entire "fictional internet" out there made of self-sustaining, RSS-fed, news aggregator web sites, with links to dozens of other similar sites, and some advertisements for various sleazy commercial enterprises. The pages look very generic, as if someone simply took the default themes in some web design tool. And since the Google spiders can't tell that these aren't real pages, the page ranks

          • XKCD 1057 [xkcd.com].

            So are you saying that fake Twitter followers increase your Google page rank? How does Google connect a Twitter user to a web page? I can see how posting a link to your website and having lots of people click on it is potentially useful, but I don't see how having a bunch of fake robotic followers clicking on the links you tweet about does anything other than look suspicious to Google. And maybe I'm cynical, but I don't see how anybody can sell "getting real people to be interested in the stu

      • This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts. .

        I could see that on Facebook. Even though I have no use for Facebook it does allow anyone to essentially have their own personal website where they can post useful information. The fact that nobody actually uses Facebook to post useful information -- not even businesses -- is another matter entirely.

        Twitter, on the other hand, is completely useless. It's impossible to convey any useful information, which makes your eleventy gazillion followers pointless.

      • Yep. Blackberry did it ( until shortly, at least ). Some plastic Linda-out-of-a-box going regularly all ecstatic about some bland RIM thing. The IDF have some of those, too.
      • by mysidia (191772)

        This is a proxy for what marketers call "reach". The more followers you have, the more people will read your posts.

        I see... so they feel better, if they have 10000 fake followers who pretend to read their posts, and sometimes hit like.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If a company has evangelists to hype their products they look better to normal folk if they have lots of followers

    • by Fwipp (1473271)

      The real issue is people who promise to "increase your twitter follower count" (whether they're a person you hire, or a firm you contract), but instead buy you fake followers. If you can trust your "social media expert," this is a non-story.

      Well, that and investors who see "Oooh! 85000 followers can't be wrong!" without bothering to use one of the many tools to estimate fake follower percentages. But I have little sympathy for wealthy fools.

      • If you can trust your "social media expert," this is a non-story.

        I had to let mine go, what with the current economic climate and all that.

        It was him or the Feng Shui consultant.

    • Pretty much that, and the ability to say "well, 100,000 people can't be wrong..."

      A startup I was recently involved in had their twitter follower count go from about 4,000 to over 100,000 in 72 hours (this was after I left), without any media exposure or obvious campaigns - that sort of thing cannot be legitimate, however you look at it.

      One easy way for Twitter to combat this sort of thing would be to put a time graph of follows for an account in the public arena, and then people could see the huge jumps tha

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Can someone explain to me what is the value for a company to have a bunch of fake followers on their twitter account?
      CEO's brag about it at their Sunday golf games?

      well the social media professional brags about the numbers to his boss. and that boss then brags at the pub.

      at some sites, like youtube, you can use it to kickstart things, because if it has lots of views then youtube will suggest it to lots of other people... mostly it's just about fooling whoever is calculating your bonus though.

  • This is the same as any other optimisation task (eg link farms for Page Rank). People will try ti and (eventually) Twitter will work-out how to clamp-down on it.

    Rinse and repeat.

    Why is this news?

    • Wait... Google has worked out how not to return crap for the majority of its results?

      I thought it was just a quicker way of searching Wikipedia, geek forums and shopping comparison sites. For most real world stuff, it's become nearly useless.

  • Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created. they can also follow its activity patterns, likes, etc. to build a profile of the account. In addition to using that data to generate revenue it could look t typical behavioral patterns of real users and establish a set o rules that indicate the account belongs to an actual person. It could then flag accounts that appear to be fake and not count them as followers. This is straightforward behavioral analysis and pattern recogn
    • Yes, you are definitely a consultant.

      (When the Bronze Behaviour Discriminator fails as the spammers step up their game in this arms race, will people have to upgrade to the Silver Behaviour Discriminator?)

      • Computer-administered Turing tests are win-win—the arms race doesn't end until someone develops strong AI, at which point the followers are no longer fake.
      • Yes, you are definitely a consultant.

        (When the Bronze Behaviour Discriminator fails as the spammers step up their game in this arms race, will people have to upgrade to the Silver Behaviour Discriminator?)

        Actually, your target is not the bot creators but the users of the output. These aren't run of the mill spammers but real companies who are paying for a service and who have an interest in what is delivered because their name is attached. If Twitter followers becomes an unreliable way to determine value, and hence price; the buyers will stop buying. It's a demand side solution.

        • I think this is a marketing thing, not an investment thing, no?

          You're not trying to lie to investors, but to get lots of real people to sign up to something by making your junk seem more popular than it is.

    • Well, Twitter could simply stop making public the number of followers an account has. Or not even reveal that number to the user in question.

      There are simple ways to stop this. Whether Twitter does this is another matter.

    • by sinij (911942) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:53PM (#45385241) Journal

      >>>Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created.
       
      I expect ./ crowd to at least understand that IP is not a reliable identifier. Twitter can only reliably determine when, everything else they know only if bot creator did not bother to spoof it. Behavior-based detection is also problematic - you can easily scrape existing activity, filter out swearing and specific identities, substitute location identifiers for something local and have 100% undetectable bot.

      Example: Scrape small-town phone book, run permutation algorithm on second name and street # to avoid collision with real people (but keep everything else intact), add random gender-appropriate picture and follow a random set of big news and artists at creation. Pipe this through TOR, stagger your account creation to avoid tripping volume detection and mind timezones for posting and registering. Proceed to post random scraped tweets that are filtered for positive-biased sentiment.

      • >>>Twitter can determine when, where, and from what IP address an account is created. I expect ./ crowd to at least understand that IP is not a reliable identifier. Twitter can only reliably determine when, everything else they know only if bot creator did not bother to spoof it.

        True, but it's not so much to identify a single user but if batches of new users are created and then use that to follow their behavior. You really don't care about id'ing a unique individual but rather seeing if enough cues are available to identify fake users.

  • Lock your tweets
  • With Silicon Valley so bent on "frictionless" experience for the mobile and "grown now, monetize later" there is no practical way to secure any of the existing social networks. One only need to reverse engineer mobile API, rip the keys and you are good-to-go creating fake accounts based on the phone book via TOR or rented botnet. Not everyone can do this, but we are getting close to where tools like Dalvik emulators and smali will let moderately talented skript kiddies to pull it off.

    What I described ab
  • and how you could never make a dime off it - unless i'm just that out of touch. The only people who made money are the ones that got it for the 26 dollar IPO price, and since everyone has been waiting for the next big google, facebook, etc, they simply bought into it without knowing what twitter really is - an app amongst apps that is used by people who generally don't have a lot of money (under 18 yr olds)
  • by Chemisor (97276) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @01:45PM (#45385193)

    It is mind boggling that people are evidently buying this stock without having looked at their finances [google.com], easily available from Google. Surely they would have noticed that Twitter has negative net income of -$64M. Worse, it looks like have had net losses in each of the last three years and their losses appear to be accelerating downward (see graph on top of the page) even with increasing revenue. I have no idea how anybody came up with a $20 market cap value. To me they look like an overpriced loser on their way to bankruptcy.

  • How about we accept that Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin don't really matter and just ignore them? Nah, marketing people need their meaningless metrics to justify their salaries and spending.

  • by Peter Harris (98662) on Sunday November 10, 2013 @02:32PM (#45385513) Homepage

    There's no need to "stop" companies using fake followers. It's just an incredibly stupid idea. 10,000 real followers indicates some proportion of those people talking to their friends about you, mentioning you on other media, possibly doing crazy fan stuff on youtube. Real followers beget more real followers. That's what viral in this context implies, (although it is a creepy and unattractive term used by creepy and unattractive people.)

    10,000 or a million fake followers won't do that for you. Go ahead, throw your money away if you want to pay for imaginary people to say they like you.

  • Using someones computer/service for something they prohibit and did not intend seems like it would be covered under the laws governing computers. Don't these ad agencies have lawyers? Or are the ad men just not telling their lawyers.
    If SPAM is a crime, then this seems to be the same.

  • make it all like spam. maybe worth doing if ya got a hundred million to fish amongst otherwise worthless. Cut the balls of monetizing information. Drown this industry before it grows any larger.

  • By product placement on Kim Kardashian's ass.

Hold on to the root.

Working...