We have bad news if you buy your followers on social media, Florida is starting to crack down on the companies that sell these followers. Florida's new attorney general, Ashley Moody, is making it her mission to target these companies, and after a several-month long state investigation, one Florida company, Devumi, has already been banned from the state.
According to an article posted by Sun-Sentinel, Devumi was a "bot" company, formerly based on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, that sold hundreds of millions of fake followers to an estimated 200,000 customers nationwide - many of their clients were professional athletes, comedians, and television actors.
Although the ban was just finalized, the company ceased operations in mid-2018 after a public report by the New York Times mentioned them. The company received a lot of backlash.
A portion of their report reads: "Devumi that has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online." You can view the entire report here.
Moody shared the details of the settlement: the company and its owner, German Calas Jr., were fined $50,000 in fees to cover the cost of the investigation and are now banned from managing social media accounts in Florida.
Many people, including Moody, believe that these bot companies are selling deception.
“Social media fraud is serious deception and can give users unwarranted influence. Through the use of bots, consumers may be tricked into believing a product, person or message is much more popular than it actually is," she said in a prepared statement.
The war on these bot accounts continues to be a group effort. Twitter started really cracking down on bots in 2018 and have deleted hundreds of millions of fake accounts over the course of a few months.
According to Ranker, some celebs that had (and probably still have) millions of bot followers include Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, and even President Donald Trump. Each of these accounts were "hit hard" by Twitter's mass fake account deletion effort recently. More information on that here.
Dealing with the fake accounts and the companies that produce them is an ongoing struggle, but the action signals to other similar companies that they too could face sanctions from Florida.