A thousand followers and none

Businesses that sell fake social media accounts and fake social media followers all face the problem that, sooner or later, the inauthentic nature of their merchandise is discovered and the accounts/followers they’ve sold get banned. In light of this, it’s not surprising that long-running account/follower sales operations continually evolve their techniques to confound detection and replace inventory lost to bans. Here’s a tale of one such operation, originally known as “Thousand Followers” and later as “Thousand Bytes”, whose operator(s) have helpfully left a trail documenting some of their activities on SEO forum BlackHatWorld.“high quality” may have been a bit of an exaggerationThe story begins back in July 2020, when posts advertising a new follower sales website by the name of thousandfollowers.com started popping up on BlackHatWorld. These posts, from a user presently named “Thousand Bytes” (previously named “jova” per some of the replies archived here), offered batches of 1000 “high quality” Twitter followers for the low price of $2. The posts also mention an API (application programming interface) that operators of other illicit follower sales services can use to automate purchases from the site. The Twitter account @thou_followers (now suspended) was provided in one of the BlackHatWorld posts as an example of an account with followers from the service.the @thou_followers Twitter account as it was in August 2020the horizontal orange streaks are batches of roughly 1000 accounts eachIn August 2020, researcher @ZellaQuixote and I ran across the @thou_followers account and the associated thousandfollowers.com website. Almost all of this account’s followers…A thousand followers and none

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