Basically since Twitter became popular, there have been companies offering “pay for followers” services. Back in August, for example, we talked about one company offering 1000 followers for $87. But it turns out those followers are way overpriced—the going rate on eBay is less than 1¢ per follower, as TechCrunch reports.
Some of the Buy-It-Now listings include 5,000 followers for $20 (which comes to 0.4 penny/follower), $5,500 for $40 (0.7 penny/follower), $1,100 for $10 (0.9 penny/follower). You are not actually buying followers outright (Twitter doesn’t allow people to transfer their followers), but rather services which “guarantee” getting your account up to the promised number of followers through “proven and safe methods.” Some even only count reciprocal followers (followers who follow back).
The best part, of course, is exactly how they accomplish this—you guessed it. Probably bots and spam accounts (Mechanical
Turks Chinese, actually), though TC isn’t certain all the eBay purveyors use that kind of service. No wonder only 17% of Twitter users are considered active!
As TC points out, it seems like there should be some countermeasures for this from Twitter. Suggestions include such things as Verified User status, a metric of measuring engagement through ReTweeting/DMs/conversations/tweets, or displaying last login.
What do you think? How can Twitter make attracting legit followers more attractive than a fraction of a penny per fake follower?