Investigation Requested Into Fake ‘Followers’

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– Two U.S. senators have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the sale of “followers” for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media users.

Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut made the request.

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

One of the sites that has been selling followers is It’s parent company is Bytion. It is moving into offices in Denver at 1900 Grant St.

(credit: CBS)

Its signs are on the door of an office, but little appears to be inside. Papers filed with the Florida Secretary of State show the Denver address as their new location.

Having large numbers of followers can be beneficial for prestige and possibly financial reasons for those who post on social media sites.

“The truth is if you have followers, you have traction and that translates to money,” said social media user Ryan McDonald.

(credit: CBS) sells followers for a price: $17 will buy 1,000 followers, $49 will buy 5,000.

It’s not just Twitter, users can also buy YouTube viewers. Another company offers Instagram followers or Facebook “likes.”

(credit: CBS)

While having a large number of followers can add to the prestige of some people, social media users like Clint Cavey would not be impressed.

“If you find worth in the followers you have, I guess that’s a route you should go down. Not something I would do,” he said.

Curtis Sveinsson is social media manager for Clicks and Clients in Englewood.

(credit: CBS)

He said, “I think it’s malpractice taking advantage of the system.”

He showed CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger how some companies take real people’s photos and information from twitter making into them fake followers.

Devumi has publicly denied any wrongdoing. Many social media sites prohibit “fake followers.”

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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