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
Commercial services provide the ability to "buy 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. 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, other than possibly a form of brand marketing.
Rantic is perhaps the most widely-publicized seller of ghost followers. According to a New York Times report, Rantic's clientele includes corporations, celebrities, journalists, politicians and even governments. The company rose to international mainstream media attention over its "controversial" bots, which can reportedly generate millions of user accounts on social media platforms. These ghost followers are being purchased for all social platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 
As of 2014 removing a ghost requires accessing the account and explicitly blocking it. This will immediately remove the connection between the ghost follower and your account.  Ghosts can be avoided by marking an account as private, requiring would-be followers to request permission. Some services have apps that can identify ghosts.
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