Were you unable to attend Transform 2022? Check out all of the summit sessions in our on-demand library now! Watch here.

You’ve always suspected that “social media expert” with 57,000 followers and 34,000 tweets — all quotes from historical figures — was just faking it until, possibly, making it.

Now Barracuda, the security company, has done some research on the Twitter black market: buying and selling followers. The results don’t look pretty for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who looks to have acquired a significant number of fake followers, and security expert Gregory D. Evans, who Barracuda says probably purchased followers at least four times.

Social proof, baby. At prices of just $18 for 1000 followers, it’s cheap to look like a big deal.

But there’s big money in it for dealers, the people who create and sell fake Twitter accounts. Barracuda says they can make up to $800/day if they control as few as 20,000 fake accounts. Dealers do have to work for their pay, however: Twitter keeps finding and taking down fake accounts, so there is constant churn.


MetaBeat 2022

MetaBeat will bring together thought leaders to give guidance on how metaverse technology will transform the way all industries communicate and do business on October 4 in San Francisco, CA.

Register Here

How can you tell if an account is fake? There’s no complete hard-and-fast rule, but here are some guidelines. Fake accounts usually:

  • follow quite a few people, but generally fewer than 2001
  • are young, having been created an average of 19 weeks ago
  • have few tweets, or, if there are many, they look automated
  • may not have a picture in the profile

Here’s the infographic Barracuda produced from their data:

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.