It was Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States of America, who said: “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures – character.”

Everyone wants fame, be it in the real world or the digital universe. If you have the money, the latter can be easily accomplished. It all started a few days back when I received an email from a guy who sells followers on Twitter. Yes, that’s right, he sells it. You might wonder how somebody can sell a Twitter follower. I mean, they are people, right? Not just some random Internet entities.

Well, from what I investigated, the accounts of the sold followers were inactive. I believe they might belong to people who don’t use Twitter anymore, or the ones who never really created the account in the first place. On further probing, I came across someone who offered me 10, 000 followers for just a paltry $2 fee. As a part of my investigation, I made another Twitter account and asked him to do that ‘voodoo' and show me the magic. And for the record, he did. I was famous – 10,000 followers famous.

That guy is not alone; in fact, there are hundreds of startup businesses such as, Buy, and more that will help you buy Twitter fame and build a deceptive reputation. It’s not rocket science finding such services. A simple Google search will bring up dozens of them. The software that these people use to get more followers is also available in several hacking forums.

Promotion of their dark ecosystem on online purchase stores such as ebay, qucikr, fever and more

Promotion of their dark ecosystem on online purchase stores such as ebay, qucikr, fever and more

Fortunately, this has caught Twitter’s attention. Twitter has started monitoring every user account and when it notices the flux when someone’s follower count crops up all of a sudden, it verifies those new followers. If they are indeed fake ones, Twitter can permanently suspend the account, as mentioned in its terms of agreement.

Two months ago, during the time of the US Presidential election, Mitt Romney’s twitter followers rose by a sum of 100,000 in one week. Famous singing sensations Rihanna and Nicki Minaj were accused of doing the same. Speaking of singing sensations, Lady Gaga has been reported to have 47 percent fake followers. In another incidence, the famous comedian Dan Nainan admitted to buying 200,000 followers and paying $424.15 for the same. But these aren't the only ones to have cashed in on this sudden surge of stardom. A couple of recent stories suggest that thousands of bloggers, actors, celebrities, cricketers, emerging stars etc. buy followers to make an impact on social media. This seems natural as the perception of today’s netizen is that followers, likes etc. is directly proportionate to how popular you are. While that is quite true to an extent, it’s now hard to know just how legitimate it all is.
Google Adword Keytool suggests over 70,000 monthly hits for the keyword “buying twitter followers”

Google Adword Keytool suggests over 70,000 monthly hits for the keyword “buying twitter followers”

If you would like to check how many of your followers are inactive, or so to speak – fake, you can use tools like Fake Follower Check, by Status People. You can also use this to check someone else’s statistics as well. An account is pronounced fake or regarded as a bot when there’s no interaction with others, tweets or retweets.
Do not misunderstand the gravity of this situation. This malicious malpractice actually endangers your account, as was seen in a rather shady incident when an antagonist mind played a cruel trick on journalist and analyst Milo Yiannopoulos, who covers such crimes, and bought him 40,000 followers! This could happen to anybody. One must report to Twitter if it does. The darkness of this timeline is growing; reports have confirmed that these cyber criminals have now developed a software that makes these spam accounts not just follow each other but tweet and retweet random posts to make them seem more authentic and active, thus keeping them off Twitter’s spambot radar. This vicious crime has not only affected the Twitterverse, but several of their partners have started rolling out fake Facebook “subscribe” and “like” tabs along with YouTube views as well.

Again, I warn you all to stay wary of these nefarious plots to attack the teensy bit of private space that you have on this massively free public gathering of the Internet.

Fame may be a vapour, but illegitimately bought Twitter fame is a poisonous gas that will put your account to sleep.

Though it is somewhat understandable – one wanting more followers and all – do keep in mind that they are far from legitimate. The more followers you have, the better it is for business credibility. It is, however, a mere illusion. Cutting corners and opting for illegitimate means to achieve fame is not just going against the ideologies of fair play, but is also a crime!

A great man once said, “Speak, so you may be recognised.” So tweet, not for the purpose of being retweeted or followed, but for the very zest of participation. If you want to look cool, simply be cool. Use hashtags, tweet interesting and 'original' stuff, make conversation more often and do not spam. This will help you discover more people who share your tastes and interests and make your Twitter experience not just a rat race to be the 'most followed' in your community, but a cool place to hang out and share your thoughts.

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