I will go so far as to say that this is a pervasive problem. Â Not the idea of anonymity, but rather this type of abuse of anonymity. Â Twitter is the most obvious place to find these kinds of networks of imaginary followers, but it’s far from the only place. Â Automated systems can (and have) been built to boost ratings for You Tube videos, dog-pile comment sections, adjust app rankings, you name it, on the internet, there seems to be a bot for it.
The thing is, nobody *really* wants to look closely at those numbers. Â Anyone with a million followers on Twitter is not going to be interested in figuring out what percent of those are real and what percent are bots. Â The paycheck is in the aggregate, in being able to sell to advertisers or throw your weight around. Â So it behooves those bots to follow your lead. Â The people who run those networks of bots need them to be valuable enough to not be run off, so they re-tweet, they signal boost, the amplify the signal of whomever they follow.
They don’t think, they don’t have morals, they don’t care, they just copy. Â In doing so, they can give a megaphone to a great cause or a sh*tty one. Â They can run people entirely off the internet forever, or draw eyeballs to a situation that needs to be discovered.
But in order to determine just how much of that signal-bump is real, you have to dig into it. Â Data-mining is the only way to try to figure out where the real influencers are versus the ones that are just digital myna-birds.