Posted by: Marley McIntosh
We’ve all seen it before — some random Instagram account gains thousands of followers overnight or a tweet gets way more retweets and likes than it deserves. I don’t know about you, but I have always demanded answers and now I think I have found one.
Astro-turfing has become the new thing that companies, celebrities, and even positions have clung onto in order to sell a product or gain a following. They do this by creating or paying someone to create fake bot accounts. These fake people then start to promote whatever product or campaign it was designed to.
Devumi is a prominent site where over 200,000 people turn to to amp up their social media presence, including athletes, pastors, and TV stars. On their website, it gives you different plan options as if you were buying a data plan. The founder of Devumi swears that they do not sell fake accounts, but I would like to now how else they can guarantee so many new followers so soon.
One Minnesota teenager, Jessica Rychly, fell victim of astro-turfing when she found a fake twitter account with her profile picture promoting Canadian real estate investments and a radio station in Ghana. This fake twitter account with Jessica’s identity all over it was
retweeting posts with Arabic and Indonesian, which she does not speak.
Jessica is definitely not the only one who has been affected by this. More than 55,000 of these fake accounts use real peoples information on twitter, including minors.
The New York attorney general has gone above and beyond to get to the bottom of this issue and has recently investigated Devumi and the millions of followers the company sold like hot cakes.
Is Devumi just making smart business decisions and profiting from the booming social media market? Or are they being immoral by creating a sense of false reality? Either way, I do believe that it is wrong to take someone’s personal information and use it as a fake account, but that’s the risk you take when putting yourself out there for the world to see, right?
In-text photo courtesy of The New York Times