Have you read the stories about people paying for fake Twitter followers? Doesn’t that sound sad to pay for “friends?” Apparently many celebs, famous people do it as well as everyday folks. Somehow upping their numbers in followers makes them feel secure or more popular?
I was talking to my daughter this morning about social media and she told me she has real-life friends that obsess over Instagram. They work to have a perfect image and the photos she sent me of them are so ridiculous. Perfect make-up, poses, backgrounds. It looks like an incredible amount of time and effort went into these pictures. And I know these girls and in real life–they barely resemble the image they are promoting. I don’t get it.
I’m so thankful we didn’t have social media when I was a kid. It was nice to have a break from your “public image” and lounge around in my bedroom or in front of the TV and not worry about what everyone else was doing. There was social pressure to fit in and be popular when I was in junior high and high school. That was enough in itself without having to keep up appearances on Facebook and Instagram. I wonder how many kids today are resorting to fake followers or obsessing over their social media image?
Here’s an excerpt from “Paying to be popular: inside social media’s black market for fake followers” by Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Richard Harris and Mark Hansen that appeared in the New York Times and Seattle Times:
“The real Jessica Rychly is a Minnesota teenager with a broad smile and wavy hair. She likes reading and the rapper Post Malone. When she goes on Facebook or Twitter, she sometimes muses about being bored or trades jokes with friends.
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, 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 pornography.
All these accounts belong to customers of an obscure U.S. company named Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social-media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found.
Several Devumi customers acknowledged that they bought bots because their careers had come to depend, in part, on the appearance of social-media influence. “No one will take you seriously if you don’t have a noteworthy presence,” said Jason Schenker, an economist who specializes in economic forecasting and has purchased at least 260,000 followers.
More than 100 self-described influencers — whose market value is even more directly linked to their follower counts on social media — have purchased Twitter followers from Devumi.
After reading countless articles of how social media is adding to our children’s stress, anxiety and depression, I’m beginning to think of it as more evil than good. Yes, I’ve enjoyed reuniting with friends I’ve lost touch with. Yes, I like the updates from my second cousin about her chemo treatments. Other than that, I think I might be happier without it. I used to get birthday phone calls each year and look forward to talking to my friends who bothered to call. Nowadays, I get a string of “happy birthdays” on Facebook. It’s not the same thing. I think we avoid talking and interacting in person, thanks to social media. It’s so much easier to text or PM rather than the give and take, patience and time, an actual phone call can take. I find I don’t like talking on the phone as much as I used to, and I often am the one to end the call first.
I pity the people who feel they have to have “followers” and buy friends. Especially if they feel their success depends upon it. I worry about this extra persona our children feel the need to create.
What are your thoughts about buying followers on social media?