Social media firm Devumi under fire for selling fake followers to stars
MANILA, Philippines – The New York Attorney General opened an investigation on Saturday, January 27, into social media firm Devumi for allegedly selling fake followers – some of whom used information copied from real people – on various types of social media.
Part of Devumi's operation stems from the Philippines, with one former Philippine contractor for Devumi even going far enough as to try to steal Devumi customers.
The brisk black market business of fake followers was outlined in a New York Times report, which said Devumi sold at least 3.5 million fake Twitter followers to people trying to gain social media leverage. These include social media practitioners, stars, and even a British Parliament member – Martha Lane Fox, who herself is a board member at Twitter.
Based on Twitter's rules, the social media platform "strictly prohibits the purchasing and selling of account interactions" and those that do so risk suspension.
Devumi CEO German Calas denied the company was selling fake followers. But his company's website reads, "Our followers look like any other followers and are always delivered naturally. The only way anyone will know is if you tell them."
DevumiBoost, the Philippine copycat
Calas' enterprise also has its own copycat, the New York Times said.
"Dozens of Devumi's customer service and order fulfillment personnel are based in the Philippines, according to company records." This appeared to lead one former Philippine contractor, Ronwaldo Boado, to build a copycat site called DevumiBoost using Devumi's own information.
Calas sued Boado, a former assistant customer support manager, for allegedly trying to steal Devumi customers.
According to the report, "After being fired for squabbling with other members of his team, Mr Boado took control of a Devumi email account listing more than 170,000 customer orders, Mr Calas alleged in court papers. Then Mr Boado created a fake Devumi."
It's telling however, that the lawsuit shows Calas and Boado are part of a larger picture, as they reportedly buy their fake social media accounts from a "thriving global market."
Twitter has gone on to say that it finds Devumi's tactics "unacceptable."
In a tweet, the company said, "The tactics used by Devumi on our platform and others as described by today's NYT article violate our policies and are unacceptable to us. We are working to stop them and any companies like them."
The tactics used by Devumi on our platform and others as described by today's NYT article violate our policies and are unnacceptable to us. We are working to stop them and any companies like them.— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) January 27, 2018
Whether or not they succeed is anyone's guess. – Rappler.com