You start up your new social media account, begin unloading your revolutionary thoughts onto the world, and you get the wonderful notification that a complete stranger wants to follow your social media activity. However, you then quickly find out that the follower is a programmed bot, a barely-used account, or a scammer using someone’s bikini-clad image as their profile picture. In other words, someone that doesn’t care what you had for breakfast this morning.
Fake users dominate the internet. According to The Atlantic, over half of internet traffic is due to bots. And social media is no different. Business Insider reported on a 2015 study that discovered nearly 8 percent of all accounts on Instagram are, in fact, fake spam bots. Twitter has faced this issue as well, with 2017 research from the University of Indiana and the University of Southern California theorizing that up to 15 percent of Twitter users are, in fact, fake accounts believed to be owned by bots. Even President Donald Trump, owner of the particularly notorious Twitter account @ realDonaldTrump, has been speculated to have a sizeable fake following, with the online tool Twitter Audit claiming nearly half of his followers to be inauthentic.
However, these fake accounts do more than just gunk up one’s follower base. Fake followers have also disrupted the billion dollar industry of influencer marketing, where a company will invest in a social media account to pro