Want to be a social media VIP? Beware of this bot factory, investigation warns

Tech devices
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We all want to be popular.

Some people more than others. Famous people. Successful people.

On Twitter, this is especially true.

The handy thing about the social networking service? Money can buy you fake followers, aka bots, to give the illusion you are popular.

One social media bot company is the subject of a recent New York Times investigation: West Palm Beach based Devumi, which specializes in securing followers for you so you don’t have to. The followers may or may not exist.

Yes, the major issue is that Devumi often uses names and pictures of actual people such as Jessica Rychly, a 19-year-old Minnesota woman, whose online identity was stolen by a Twitter bot.

With at least 3.5 million automated accounts under its belt, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, according to the Times investigation, and raked in more than $6 million in revenue.

The price of quasi fame on the Web? Devumi charges $225 for 25,000 followers, or about a penny each, reports The Times. You can also buy “likes” and retweets.

On Saturday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation into Devumi, whose illustrious clients include actors, porn stars, politicians, athletes and businesspeople. South Floridians included in the list are Chad Carroll, of “Million Dollar Listing Miami”; ad executive Jordan Zimmerman; and Wilhelmina Models of Miami Beach.

“The growing prevalence of bots means that real voices are too often drowned out in our public conversation,” Schneiderman tweeted that day. “Those who can pay the most for followers can buy their way to apparent influence.”

He added that Devumi may be found guilty of “impersonation and deception.”

For a full list of famous clients, click here