Fiverr is a five-buck bazaar website much like GirlfriendHire. Only, instead of sad people helping even sadder people pretend they're in relationships for money, Fiverr is a group of sad people doing pretty much anything for money.
- I will create a ventriloquist puppet video with any message you want for $US5
- I will do whatever you want as a redneck for $US5
- I will make make my sister sing a song for you for $US5
Etc. Sure, who cares — this is all just useless stuff that costs an arbitrary five dollars. But then there are the Twitter merchants.
Search for "twitter" and you'll find accounts across the globe offering to set you up with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Twitter followers. All for five bucks a pop. It varies from day to day, but at the moment, $US5 via PayPal will net you anywhere from 400 to 80,000 new followers after a few days — or hours — of processing. That's a lot of followers! With a few transactions, you could have more Twitter followers than Chris Tucker! Remember, he was in Rush Hour? What that many followers, what could stop you in life? Only your imagination.
But let's make one thing clear: These aren't real followers. They don't actually exist outside of a tiny blip on a hard drive owned by Twitter, in a cold dim room you'll never enter. They're robot accounts, automatically herded toward your username via software. They won't retweet you, favourite you, reply to you, or make a single Twitter ripple. They're inert — mere numbers on a page. The best ones have awesomely, obviously fake names like "Bumford Rahmel" and "Demeulemeester Omayr". The worst are just streams of gibberish: "@DiofghdfhuuIudf is now following you."
So How Does It Work?
We're not entirely sure, but according to a reputable hacker friend of ours (who runs his own large botnet):
Generally they use compromised accounts or create them in batches with some kind of captcha bypassing exploits, or by simply creating a bunch of accounts, manually filling those captchas.
But yeah, mostly compromised twitter accounts acquired with botnets, they run a script to make those accounts to follow the profile in question... Nothing complicated really.
Why Would Anyone Want To Do This?
Here's a pathetic fact about all of us: The eyes of the 21st century bulge in the presence of large numbers online. Whether it's the views on a YouTube video, Facebook likes, the screen size of TV, or, yes, Twitter followers. It's shameful, but on this peacocky web of ours, Twitter followers translate into something vaguely impressive. Should it? No, not really — who you truly are online should be the quality of followers, not quantity, among other things you were taught in kindergarten. And yet — we like big things. There's probably a dopamine reaction going on.
Should Buying Twitter Followers Prompt You To Reevaluate Your Life?
Yes, absolutely. You'll feel disgusted and guilty because you just paid actual money for fake followers on a website, and, man, blech, come on.
I felt this way when I bought 2000 (for journalistic purposes).
A colleague, who also put in a 2k order, was so ashamed that he asked his Twitter pimp to reduce the count to a more believable 700. When it went through and he saw the number spike, he asked the fixer to shave off a few hundred more. No dice. Once it's done, it's done.
You can, in such a crisis, go through the list and block the new followers one by one. It takes time, but it lowers the count. He's still pruning.
Meanwhile, another colleague paid for 500 and got 25,000. So, buyer beware.
What Happens After A Sudden Explosion Of Twitter Followers?
Most people won't notice, right away, as most people don't regularly check how many followers you have. It's probably best to treat a follower binge like any other drug. Go on small doses — a few thousand here, a 10,000-bot bump down the line — so it doesn't look any more fake than it has to.
But then, inevitably, people will notice. You'll look like a "big deal", even though you're "not really". Maybe you'll feel good about yourself. Maybe you'll get followed by some real people, because you must be so popular for a reason, right? You might just come across as important, and even valuable, because — this is serious — Twitter followers are an increasing barometer of influence. If a prospective employer looks you up and sees your bigshot Twitter stats, you might even land a job.
Can I Get In Trouble?
No. There's nothing illegal about this, doesn't appear to violate Twitter's terms of service. Since the accounts aren't actually spamming anyone, it's doubtful Twitter has a reason to go after this kind of operation. The only trouble you can possibly get in is during a meeting with your god, wherein he asks you if you've ever spent money on fake Twitter followers. You say yes, and you're thrown into a lake of fire.
Is It Fun To Buy Hordes Of Followers For Unsuspecting Friends?
Yes. It is perhaps the best use of Fiverr's Twitter shopping spree. Click to enlarge, below.
Money well spent.
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to etiquette.
Original photo: Ethan Miller/Getty