Culture 2 min read

Selling Fake Social Media Followers Now Illegal in the U.S.

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garagestock /

In a precedent-setting case, the Federal Trade Commission has ruled that selling fake social media followers and likes is illegal in the United States.

Today, 72 percent of Americans use social media to connect with another, share news content, and entertain themselves. So, it’s not surprising that the platform has become a source of revenue for many.

Whether its social influencing or content creation, social networking sites now offer various ways to generate revenue. But a shadowy part of the market involves selling fake social media followers and likes to other businesses.

That’s where an obscure American company, Devumi LLC, comes in.

Devumi remained relatively unknown until the New York Times investigated the company’s activities. According to the post, the company draws from at least 3.5 million automated accounts to provide its customers with over 300 million followers.

What’s more, Devumi reportedly made a whopping $15 million in revenue from doing this.

The post reads:

“The Times reviewed business and court records showing that Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors, and models.”

Shortly after the story broke, the company shut down its operations and reached a $50,000 settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office. Now, the FTC has imposed an additional $2.5 million fine for selling social media followers.

The Business of Selling Fake Social Media Followers and Likes

Bots and fake accounts have become more popular on social media, driven by influencers’ strive for higher engagement numbers.

Reports suggest that the largest social network, Facebook, has nearly 60 million automated accounts. Similarly, Instagram has about 95 million bot accounts.

Aside from its influence in advertising, these bots have also reshaped political debate and promoted the spread of fake news. Yet, the creation and sales of these accounts lingered in a legal gray zone.

Well, not anymore. The verdict is in; it’s now illegal to sell fake social media followers in the U.S.

Read More: 7 Benefits of Social Media Marketing for New Companies

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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