As influencer marketing has exploded over the past few years celebrities have taken to promoting products through their social media channels. It’s pretty common to see celebrities, particularly B and C-listers, hawking products like slimming teas, teeth whiteners, protein supplements, etc on Instagram and Facebook. This trend has given birth to countless companies that claim to add hundreds of followers to accounts overnight in exchange for money. Devumi is one such company, it sold more than 3.5 million fake social media followers to celebrities and politicians, and now it’s being investigated by the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Selling fake social media followers isn’t exactly illegal. Even if you’ve never paid for such a service, chances are you have several bots following you on Twitter and Instagram. That’s how prevalent they are.
Devumi isn’t being investigated just because it sold 3.5 million fake social media followers. It’s being investigated because apparently at least 55,000 of the fake accounts were made using personal details of real people. Some of those people live in New York. These bot accounts reportedly used pictures, names, hometowns, and other details from real people on Twitter.
Schneiderman says that this amounts to “impersonation and deception.” It gets worse, though, because some of the people whose information was used for these bots were not even legal adults.
Devumi claims to be based in New York City on its website but the New York Times reports that the company is actually based in Florida.
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