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From The Kernel Archives

PayPal social media don bought followers too

By William Henderson

Dave Peck, PayPal’s most senior director of social media, is the latest of his kind to have been caught “gaming” Twitter followers to enhance online reputation. The revelation comes after The Kernel reported just yesterday that PeerIndex chief executive Azeem Azhar bought 20,000 followers earlier this year, in an apparent attempt to inflate his social media clout.

Social monitoring service TwitterCounter.com indicates that between 16 and 20 May this year, Peck gained 81,776 followers, with over half of them (42,047) opting to follow him within 24 hours: an acquisition rate of one follower approximately every two seconds.

Another sharp increase of followers is evident on 10 March: 44,075 followers were obtained in three days. Smaller increases of a few thousand followers within a similarly short period of time can be seen incrementally earlier this year.

The Kernel’s Editor-in-Chief, Milo Yiannopoulos, woke today to see that someone had gifted him 20,000 followers in response to his article on Azhar yesterday, demonstrating how easy it is for followers to be purchased even without access to the target account’s password.

The accounts which followed him are easily identifiable. Usually, they follow around a thousand people and have little or no tweeting history. The overlap between the accounts – that is, the users they all follow – presents an obvious list of clients of paid-for follower acquisition services.

Peck began 2012 with around 78,000 followers, an amount that has since almost tripled. The graph inbetween the dramatic increases shows a faint but definite downward trend: presumably due to fake accounts gradually being deleted by Twitter. It is consistent with the trend demonstrated in known cases of follower gaming.

If Peck’s most recently favourited tweet, one by Peck himself, is anything to go by, its lack of a single retweet from not only the 125,000 or more followers he has accumulated this year but any user whatsoever is not suggestive of someone whose following on Twitter is genuine or engaged.

After seeing the funny side of his avalanche of new followers this morning, The Kernel’s Yiannopoulos requested assistance from a social media expert to simultaneously pry his new “admirers” from his account and report them en masse. Would Peck be willing to lend a hand? Yeah, we doubt it.

Peck did not immediately return a request for comment.


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