The rise of social media and the algorithms that control the internet have made people and brands more concerned about raising some particular metric or another. For example, everyone wants their posts to have a large number of likes, their websites to have a large number of clicks, or their social accounts to have a large number of followers. Though it may be tempting, it’s never a good idea to pay a company to artificially inflate these to totals, as a recent action by the New York Attorney General shows.

Social Media Management services keep your organization connected to your members & families.Recently, the New York Attorney General announced it was investigating a company called Devumi that sold followers on Twitter to people trying to inflate their follower count. In a series of tweets, the Attorney General wrote, “Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law. We’re opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities. The growing prevalence of bots means that real voices are too often drowned out in our public conversation. Those who can pay the most for followers can buy their way to apparent influence.”

The New York Attorney General’s office is no stranger to this kind of action, as they also led the charge against fake reviews. And since paying for followers is against the rules of most social media platforms, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. However, it’s the fallout from this situation that should serve as a warning for brands.

Burning money with Yelp Advertising.While companies that sell followers and fans may be facing legal actions, the brands and people that have used these services found themselves on the defense when it came to questions of legitimacy. The New York Times did a huge story on the issue, which exposed that many prominent figures had used these kinds of services.

According to the article, “The actor John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. So do Michael Dell, the computer billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the football commentator and former Ravens linebacker. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who today presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the show “American Ninja Warrior.” Even a Twitter board member, Martha Lane Fox, has some.”

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