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Firm Selling Fake Twitter Followers To Be Probed

The NYT report said the company sells fake followers to Twitter users, sometimes using details based on real people

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A recent research found that between nine and 15 percent of active Twitter accounts are autonomous entities known as social bots. Pixabay
A recent research found that between nine and 15 percent of active Twitter accounts are autonomous entities known as social bots. Pixabay

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced a probe into digital marketing company called Devumi that is reportedly selling fake followers to Twitter users.

“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,” Schneiderman tweeted on Sunday.

He was reacting to a New York Times report that claimed Devumi is providing fake followers to social media users.

ALSO READ: Sale or No Sale: As Twitter tries to broaden its appeal to more people, Users are bound to see Changes

On its website, New York-based Devumi claims to “accelerate your social growth by helping you “quickly gain followers, viewers, likes and more” on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other online platforms “with its blend of marketing tactics”.

The NYT report said the company sells fake followers to Twitter users, sometimes using details based on real people.

“Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online,” the report said.

To understand how Devumi works, the NYT itself set up a new Twitter account and spent $225 on 25,000 followers. Pixabay
To understand how Devumi works, the NYT itself set up a new Twitter account and spent $225 on 25,000 followers. Pixabay

“Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers,” the report claimed.

“As advertised, the first 10,000 or so looked like real people. They had pictures and full names, hometowns and often authentic-seeming biographies,” the report said.

ALSO READ: Twitter introduces fast and data-friendly ‘Twitter Lite’ in India with Vodafone as its first global launch partner

“The next 15,000 followers from Devumi were more obviously suspect: no profile pictures, and jumbles of letters, numbers and word fragments instead of names,” it added.

A recent research found that between nine and 15 percent of active Twitter accounts are autonomous entities known as social bots.

The micro-blogging site has over 300 million monthly active users and that would mean nearly 27 million to 45 million accounts are actually not controlled by humans, according to the study from Indiana University and the University of Southern California in the US. (IANS)

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A Bug in Twitter Exposes Private Tweets of Some Android Users

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system

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New Twitter bug exposed Android users' private tweets. Pixabay

A bug in Twitter exposed private tweets of some Android users for over five years when they made changes in their settings, like changing the email address linked to their accounts.

According to the micro-blogging platform, the bug (now fixed) disabled the “Protect your Tweets” setting if certain account changes were made on Android devices.

The bug didn’t affect people using Twitter on iOS or desktop, Twitter said on Thursday.

“You may have been impacted by this issue if you had protected Tweets turned on in your settings, used Twitter for Android, and made certain changes to account settings such as changing the email address associated with your account between November 3, 2014, and January 14, 2019.

“People on iOS or the web were not impacted. We fixed the issue on January 14, and we’ll provide updates if other important information becomes available,” Twitter said on its Help page.

The company said it has informed those who were affected by the bug, and has turned “Protect your Tweets” back on for them if it was disabled.

Twitter CEO
Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

“We encourage you to review your privacy settings to ensure that your aProtect your Tweets’ setting reflects your preferences,” said Twitter, adding it is sorry that this happened.

In May last year, Twitter asked its 336 million users to change their passwords after it discovered a bug that stored passwords in plain text in an internal system.

Twitter said it found no sign that hackers accessed the exposed data but advised users that they should enter a new password on all services where their current password has been used.

Also Read- Android ‘Q’ Expected to Bring System-wide ‘Dark Mode’

Another bug in Twitter’s platform for third-party app developers exposed some Direct Messages (DMs) from nearly 3 million users to outsiders, the micro-blogging platform admitted in September.

The bug ran from May 2017 and after discovering it, Twitter said it fixed the bug to prevent data from being unintentionally sent to the incorrect developer.

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system. (IANS)