Is GOP Congressional Candidate Steve Von Loor of North Carolina committing "Follower Fraud?"
What is "Follower Fraud?"
Imagine that you are a celebrity, political candidate, or a provider of professional services. You are your own brand. With social media at the fingertips of the world’s population, it has quickly become a primary outlet to promote brands such as these. However, this process can be easily abused.
On Twitter, an individual’s value can be measured by the amount of followers that they have. The New York Times article, “The Follower Factory,” explains how a social status has evolved to equate to a real-life currency. This has resulted in the creation of hundreds of services all over the internet that provide “twitter following” packages for sale. All it takes is a google search for “buy twitter followers” and a payment, and you can have anywhere from 500 to 50,000 new followers within hours.
These “followers” are not real people. They are all “bots,” created with a fake profile picture, perhaps a “fortune-cookie reading status,” and although most do not have a tweeting history, some of the services appear to tweet gibberish. Since these bots can be discovered by not only the human eye, but also algorithmic data, twitter is able to catch and de-activate many of them. They will, however, pop up again.
“Follower Fraud” has been coined as this process of purchasing a follower service in order to deceive the public and misrepresent the real popularity or influence of an individual or brand.
Who is "Steve Von Loor?"
Steve Von Loor is a walk-on candidate for the Republican Party who is running against David Price for the US Congress 4th District of North Carolina. Von Loor ran unopposed in the North Carolina Primaries.
Although Von Loor is projected with a less than 1% chance of coming out victorious in November of this year, he has been the center of recent controversy. His co-campaign managers have resigned from his campaign after a long history of alleged domestic violence was exposed in court proceedings. Further, a disturbing video of Steve Loor has surfaced.
Evidence towards Follower Fraud
It appears that after losing both of his campaign managers, Von Loor has allegedly resorted to purchasing twitter follower services for his campaign twitter account. On July 13th, 2018 at 9:47 PM, Von Loor announced that he had just hit 7,500 followers. However, data shows that on or around this time, he had only 4,753 followers. This means he anticipated at least 3,000 more followers to come in, which they did.
Twitter is known for having an abundance of add-ons which compile and save data constantly. Socialblade.com is a service that tracks the amount of followers gained and lost on a daily basis. It also displays the current amount of followers.
In the above screenshot, you can see the large number of added followers to Von Loor's campaign account. It appears that on Monday, July 16th, Twitter was able to detect ban most a large proportion of these fake followers. However, Von Loor appears to be adding additional fake followers on an almost daily basis.
Before the first round of fraudulent followers were removed by Twitter, a report was generated at twitteraudit.com in order to detect the legitimacy of the followers. As expected, the influx of followers were fake.
Below, check how many of Von Loor's followers just so happened to make a twitter account between 1 to 7 days ago.
The evidence that Von Loor is purchasing twitter following services is overwhelming. It is fraudulent, deceptive and misleading. A US Congressional Candidate should NOT mislead the general public, regardless of partisanship, about their growth and influence by purchasing twitter followers. Are these being purchased with donated campaign funds?
At this time, Von Loor sits at 11,000 followers, with near 7,000 of them being fake. To this date, twitter has been notified of Von Loor's actions as this is likely against their terms and conditions.
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