Ghost followers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ghost followers, also referred to as ghosts and ghost accounts or lurkers, are users on social media platforms who remain inactive or do not engage in activity. They register on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. These users follow active members, but do not partake in liking, commenting, messaging, and posting. These accounts may be created by people or by social bots.

Ghost follower scams[edit]

Many ghost followers are accounts created by scammers who create fictional profiles and use them to target and scam others.[1]

Buying followers[edit]

Commercial services provide the ability to buy Instagram followers, most of which are ghosts. These individuals are paid to follow accounts but are not required to engage with them. This allows those seeking publicity to quickly increase their number of followers and appear to be popular, or "trending". For example, Rantic (formerly "SocialVEVO" and "Swenzy") was able to increase the number of Daily Dot's Twitter followers from 48,000 followers to 122,000 in only four days.[2] This faux-popularity may still attract "volunteer" users. However, this technique may backfire if its use becomes known. According to Olivier Blanchard, unless the objective is just to appear popular, purchased ghosts do not help meet business objectives,[3] other than possibly a form of brand marketing.[4]

In January 2018 an article in the New York Times described the business of a company called Devumi in selling ghost followers on Twitter, and named many of Devumi's customers.[5][edit]

Rantic is perhaps the most widely publicized seller of ghost followers.[6] According to a New York Times report, Rantic's clientele includes corporations, celebrities, journalists, politicians and even governments.[7] The company rose to international mainstream media attention over its "controversial" bots, which can reportedly generate millions of user accounts on social media platforms.[8] These ghost followers are being purchased for many popular social platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and SoundCloud.[9][10]

As a result, the practice of selling ghost followers has turned into a multimillion-dollar online business, according to another New York Times report.[11]


Devumi sold more than 200 million fake followers. Even at its peak the company was tiny with their main office located above a restaurant in Florida. The firm primarily sold Twitter bots sourced from operations like Peakerr, SkillPatron, JAP, Cheap Panel and YTbot at a markup to celebrity and commercial clients. The company also operated on YouTube, SoundCloud, and LinkedIn.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Social Networking Scams" N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. Archived April 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Hoaxsters Bought Us 75,000 Fake Followers in a New Kind of Twitter Attack." The Daily Dot. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.
  3. ^ Blanchard, Olivier (22 February 2011). [{{google%20books |plainurl=y |id=EwVK4G5bkBwC}} Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization]. Pearson Education. ISBN 978-0-13-267802-5. {{cite book}}: Check |url= value (help)
  4. ^ Marwick, Alice E. (28 November 2014). "4". Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-20938-9.
  5. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (2018). "The Follower Factory". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Friends, and Influence, for Sale Online" The New York Times Web. 20 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Instagram could delete up to 10 million accounts" International Business Times Web. 11 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Buy Social Media Likes, Followers, Views & Comments | Graming".
  9. ^ "Rantic: How your followers would look if you buy USA Twitter followers" Web. 30 November 2014. Archived December 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Free Instagram Followers". free followers.
  11. ^ "Fake Twitter Followers Become Multimillion-Dollar Business" New York Times Web. 05 April 2013.