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uSocial Sells Twitter Followers By the Thousand 118

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the how-to-know-when-you've-jumped-the-shark dept.
bfire writes to tell us that marketing firm uSocial has decided to apply a new monetization scheme to the Twitter service by providing packages of followers for purchase. "According to the firm, a single Twitter follower could be worth $0.10 a month. It is selling followers in various packages, starting at 1,000 for $87, which is delivered in seven days, and going all the way up to 100,000 followers at a cost of $3,479, delivered over a year." This is just the latest in a number of different exploits and problems of the Twitter universe as individuals try to subvert a popular tool into a self-serving device.
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uSocial Sells Twitter Followers By the Thousand

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:37AM (#28591841)

    What is actually this twitter thing?

    • A good (and amusing) summary can be found here [youtube.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DJRumpy (1345787)
        At least someone said it to the masses. The 'A-List' twits are Narcissistic to the core. I'll admit that in some very specific circumstances, it could be a useful tool, but only in the fact that it mimics a crippled IM client. I'm talking about live blogging/chat sessions about breaking news and such. In all other cases, it's pretty much a total waste of time and energy not to put too fine a point on it. These folks are either desperate for recognition of any sort, or they simply live such boring lives tha
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by statemachine (840641)

          Are any of your friends ones that you don't see regularly? Maybe they just simply want to keep up with you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dave1791 (315728)

            For that, things like Facebook are better; not for technical, but cultural reasons. On FB, people tend to give fewer â" but more weighty - updates than on twitter. This means that the 70 or so friends and family I'm tracking are not spamming that they are now having a cup of coffee and now eating lunch and now taking a dump. Whenever some twit starts feeding his twittering into FB and spamming all over the place, I filter him out.

        • by $1uck (710826) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:55AM (#28593355)
          I don't know about you I'm interested in knowing if the traffic sucks. Maybe I can find a different way home. I'm interested to know when my friends from out of town/out of state are coming to town. Posting to twitter is a lot easier than emailing/im'ing twenty different people. It also means when you post something it's going out to only those people who actually are interested in seeing it. I think your thoughts about why other people use twitter is more telling about you as a person than anything else really. Why do you need to disparage the tools of others? what kind of person needs that sort of validation?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DJRumpy (1345787)
            Do you really need to tell 20 people that traffic sucks? I can't think of a single person that woudl find that relevant unless an accident happened right outside of the work parking lot. How many drive the exact same way home as you? In addition, if I'm that interested in traffic, I just look at the GPS.

            As to your travel plans, if they were good friends, they would either know you were going out of town, or if they were coming in to town they would actually pick up the phone and call you. I can't think o
            • It's interesting that you are so angry about this. If it is something that others (by the millions) find useful or entertaining why does it bother you so?
              • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

                by DJRumpy (1345787)
                I never said I was angry. I do think it's a waste of time and resources.
      • This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions.

        And I thought only Hulu were anal about copyright restrictions.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:01AM (#28592921) Journal
      He's a long-standing Slashdot troll, known for rabidly anti-MS (always spelt M$) posts and operating a dozen or so sockpuppet accounts. Apparently there's some social networking / microblogging thingy named after him too.
    • by Fnord666 (889225)

      What is actually this twitter thing?

      From the name I would guess that it's a social site for twits.

  • by lee1026 (876806) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:41AM (#28591857)

    Essentially, what they do is they recommend people to subscribe to certain feeds, and then charges the feeds for it. Not entirely a bad idea. What is unknown here is how in the world they actually plan to get people to actually subscribe to those feeds. In the worst case, they have a bunch of sock puppet accounts.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One day those sock puppet accounts will become self aware. We'd all be in mortal peril, except they'll be stymied by somehow stumbling across craigslist personals, and a mobius of spam will cause the system to be erased from the timeline.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One day those sock puppet accounts will become self aware.

        It's already happened [slashdot.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by wisty (1335733)

      Do they also sell gmail invites? I think I have a few of those under the mattress.

    • by Punto (100573)

      how in the world they actually plan to get people to actually subscribe to those feeds

      by sharing some of that $.1 they charge with them?

    • What I don't get is who came up with this metric that a Twitter follower is worth 10 cents. I just don't believe it.
  • So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by onion2k (203094) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:47AM (#28591889) Homepage

    The service that uSocial are offering is neither an exploit nor a problem. They're not spamming anyone - they're just letting people have access to a pool of people open to "following back" and taking a fee. It's a total waste of money buying in because the sort of people who'll follow everyone and care about the number of followers they have are generally idiots, but it's not really anything to worry about.

    • by patro (104336)

      It's a total waste of money buying in

      There are lots of narcistic people in the world and they may pay for all those fans who follow their precious self.

      • Re:So what? (Score:4, Informative)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NoSPam.barbara-hudson.com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @08:44AM (#28593253) Journal

        ... because nothing says "loser" so much as "I'll pay you to be my friend."

        The median twitter user [itnews.com.au] makes one post, then abandons the account.

        • by RJFerret (1279530)

          That's not showing the entire story. Just like the 90-9-1 rule, most people using Twitter are reading others, you don't need to even make that first post to accomplish that, but most typically try anyway as the sign-up process walks you through it.

          What they don't realize is you don't need to make an account to read either. Many of my friends follow me via email and RSS instead of via their own Twitter account. And of those with Twitter accounts, most don't update daily, but only when they have something

        • by TheSpoom (715771) *

          The median twitter user [itnews.com.au] makes one post, then abandons the account.

          I did that on purpose. [twitter.com]

        • Yup. That's me. I just signed up and spammed a single post to get a free app as part of MacHeist. I'll be a whole bunch of people did this.

          I logged in a couple of months to see if anything was up with the account, but nothing was.

          For me, I'd probably put the effort into a facebook page for my friends, rather than the occasional blurt.

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nem75 (952737) <jens@bremmekamp.com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:51AM (#28592165)

      It's a total waste of money buying in because the sort of people who'll follow everyone and care about the number of followers they have are generally idiots

      So is it really a waste then? Presuming that someone who pays to get followers is trying to sell something in turn, this might not be such a waste. Sure, the followers would be idiots. And fool ... money ... soon to part - I guess you see what I'm getting at.

    • Re:So what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jrumney (197329) on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:04AM (#28592207) Homepage
      It's a problem because it will be used for search engine spamming, with the result that free speech such as we're seeing out of Iran that makes use of Twitter to spread itself gets lowered search rankings by association when the search engines react to the new source of spam.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        All links on twitter are marked "nofollow" anyway - so I don't think that makes it a problem for search engines...

        I think that the problem is related to the weight of validity you associate with what someone says, and how many people are following them. If someone has lots of followers, it seems like a good indication that they are worth listening to - but it doesn't take much reading to work out whether this is the case or not... and I guess usually on twitter it is not!
    • Doesn't matter if anyone is an idiot or not. They're making money.
      • by SEWilco (27983)
        But then they can afford a bigger car. Then there will be another idiot on the road in a big car, and it will matter to the rest of us.
    • by Seumas (6865)

      I'm as worried about this uSocial crap destroying Twitter as I am someone running over Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps. In fact, I'd view it as equally good news should any of those things happen.

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      Idiots with money. Isn't it what it's all about? The point is getting people to buy what you tweet about. Having enough followers can be worth money. So with enough followers your tweet can go something like "gee, I'm stuck in LA traffic again. But my new Lexus makes it so much more pleasant." Lexus get also the tweet and sends you $5.00 for the publicity.

    • It's a total waste of money buying in because the sort of people who'll follow everyone and care about the number of followers they have are generally idiots

      Those people are the best targets for marketing campaigns.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:53AM (#28591905)

    SO now we know what the current price of a twit is!

    10 cents a month.

  • ...to have a thousand chinese goldfarmers following my tweets?

    I can see someone paying money to have followers in a certain target demographics, but only buying followers from the internet at large does not seem to make sense...

    • There are people who like to say "I have A THOUSAND followers!!" much like Dr. Evil thought he was oh-so-impressive demanding "one MILLION dollars!!". On the surface it sounds good to have so many followers, and these sorts of people are probably boasting to non-twitterers (non-twits?) who won't know any better. Kind of like how some bloggers cite the number of hits they get -- not the number of unique visitors. Ego inflation pure and simple. Been around since the dawn of humanity ("hurrr me have bigger sti
  • so who's the tool and what's the device?
  • And Then.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by upto0013 (1144677)
    And then, Candi Nipson the Twitter porn spammer has 100,000 followers.
  • yFollow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:29AM (#28592087)

    uSocial?

    iWon't.

    Burma Shave!

  • Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:36AM (#28592117)

    I don't get it, is that like paying people to be your friend?

  • by tokyoahead (743189) on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:37AM (#28592121)

    1. All nerds try to compensate their lack of FB friends by buying fake twitter followers. FB is deserted and closes down.
    2. uSocial tries to save money & starts to sell all followers to several customers.
    3. uSocial has to create 50 million fake followers since Kim Jong Il wants that many, but the North Koreans have only 5 PCs.
    4. All the aforementioned outcasts get investigated by the NSA for their connection to Kim Jong Il, and get send to Gitmo as long as it's still open.
    5. The US collapses because of the lack of IT personnel and a not properly disinfected telephone.
    6. Castro takes over Gitmo and makes it the worlds most secure & cheap IT call center.
    7. India collapses too, because of unemployment.
    8. China buys India & the US.
    Better start learning Mandarin!

  • by sl149q (1537343) on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:15AM (#28592247)
    I don't use twitter but signed up just to reserve my name... What is interesting is that I get one or two "followers" a week, and they are people who I have never heard of. And I suspect that would really have no particular reason to follow my (non-existent) tweets... It could just be accidental but it seems like too many for that.
    • by qreeves (1363277) on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:35AM (#28592337) Homepage

      Check their Twits; you'll find more often than not that they're spammers. Some people are just so glad to have a follower they don't realise it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by severoon (536737)

        Are you serious? "Check their Twits"?

        Tweets, people. Tweets!

        You use twitter to tweet. You are a twitterer or Twitter user. You tweet. Tweeting is what twitterers do. "Twit" is someone who doesn't get this.

        • And you, my friend, are a giant dork.

        • Are you serious? "Check their Twits"?

          Tweets, people. Tweets!

          You use twitter to tweet. You are a twit or Twitter user. You tweet. Tweeting is what twits do. "

          There, fixed that for you.

      • Yep - they're spammers, but who are they spamming? I don't Follow them in return, so I never see a single word from those accounts. I just see the numbers of Followers going up at no cost to me.

        As for the complaints about people tweeting "I'm on the John" or whatever: you don't have to put up with that. Un-follow. Problem solved, unless you're the one tweeting such crud, in which case I don't know you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't use twitter but signed up just to reserve my name...

      Damnit... *I* wanted to register sl149q!

      You wouldn't consider selling it..?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Punto (100573)

      I find your ideas intriguing and would like you follow you on twitter.

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      I use a twitter account to provide updates about the game I run. It's superhero themed, but because it has the word "Twilight" in the name (with the implication you've got a day job and go out at dusk to fight crime), I get a couple of people a day with accounts that are named "Cullen." No amount of saying "this is a superhero game" or "there are no vampires here" seems to dissuade them.
  • According to the firm, a single Twitter follower could be worth $0.10 a month.

    Dead or alive?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Heck, I know a guy that will follow you for free! Sure, he peeps in though your windows at night and for the most part he's harmless.

  • I finally gave in and made a twitter account last week, and I already have four followers, none of whom are people I know online or off. Seems to me you get enough random followers no matter WHAT you do. ;o

    • I think you are given some random people to follow when you join, not sure why. Most of my random followers seem to be spam, but there are some real people in there.

    • by dave1791 (315728)

      I made one last year. At the time, I was following the Silicon Valley VC bloggers because I was thinking of founding a startup. Those people would not shut up about twitter, so I checked it out. After my median one tweet (and deciding that the whole VC scene is about navel gazing), I never logged in again and I'm not even sure what my password is anymore.

      But I still get emails about once a week that XYZ is now following me.

  • by roesti (531884) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:29AM (#28592755)

    Great article. Totally tweeting this.

  • When you manage to gather enough gullible people together in one service, it's inevitable that they are going to be exploited. What, after all, is even the point of twitter if you weren't going to somehow make money off its users?

    The twitter audience is ripe for exploitation: not overly bright, slaves to peer pressure, naive, shallow, celebutard-obsessed, narcissistic and self-obsessed. That's pure gold, right there.

    It was only a question of time before someone started farming those sheeple.
  • The only solution I thought of was to have spam traps in place over twitter. If they keep using buzzwords then they can catch the amount of spam and other rubbish that keeps following people. Marketers are OK but the amount of other rubbish is mortifying. Hopefully they already have something like this in place?
    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      They do, and you can easily report spam [twitter.com].

      If you look for the profiles of some of the random followers people have mentioned here, often they are gone, having already been removed from the system.

      They are also ridiculously easy to spot, like this one today:

      chaoticPri73400
      Beth Agrell
      hi£ÂMy friends! I recommends a website which can reduce your electric bill by 80%. URL REMOVED It's 7:38 am 6 days ago

      "She" is following 1,603 people and has nearly none following "her", never mind her sexy pictur

  • Maybe its just me, but the odds they gave are wrong. with 20,000 entries, and 10 laptops, the odds would be 1 in 20,000 of winning. not 1 in 200,000 as the article states.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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