341 Proof of Crime Patrol true stories ::: How to get millions of fake Twitter followers for a pittance

How I bulked up my Twitter following by spending just ₹455

Last month, I decided to see what happens when one buys Twitter followers. The task turned out to be simpler than buying a book online.

One online transaction, and boom, my three-day-old account posting bland missives on interior design had 1,015 followers. But, like love, money can’t buy you living, breathing followers. What I had were bots that inflated my follower count without caring for my opinion. Like air in a bag of potato chips, they made my following look full. But one little shake, and the rattle told the whole story.

To start, here’s what I did — I created an email address and Twitter account. Wanting something safe and apolitical, I went for an account on home décor tips. The profile picture for @TheHome_Project was of a friend’s room, and the cover photo was a picture I clicked at a café. Next, a Google search with permutations of “buy Twitter followers in India”. I was spoilt for choice.

Celebrities, politicians among clients seeking fake followers

One agency stood out for its no-nonsense approach. It offered Twitter and LinkedIn followers, Facebook likes, search engine optimisation (SEO), Wikipedia article editing, social media marketing and more for an upfront fee. I am withholding the name of the agency as its head requested anonymity.

I signed up for a package of 1,000 followers on the website. There was no check for my email address and Twitter account linkage. I could have easily gifted new Indian Twitter followers to Taylor Swift, if it struck my fancy.

The charge on my card was for Rs 455, but the bill generated was in US dollars. By now, I had begun posting links to random articles on interior design. After a day in which I requested three reluctant friends to follow the account, my followers swelled to 1,015 (the other 12 accounts were presumably genuine followers).

There was a peculiar pattern to these followers. Most had their display names in the Devanagari script. Their handles were a random string of alphanumeric characters forming no intelligible words. Hardly any had posted tweets. Even more curiously, many followed the same three middle-rung politicians of the AAP, BJP and Congress, a mix of Punjabi pop artistes, government institutions, and assorted celebrities.

The bought bot attention was short lived. My followers began to drop. On February 8, I had over 1,000. By February 15, I wrote a hurt email to the agency: the count had dropped to 742. I was assured of a “refill”. By February 19, it was 528. “Ongoing twitter update causing drop…we will refill in few days,” came the reply to a second email.

I then signed up on a service called unfollowerstats.com to see where my lost followers had gone. It put together a list of the handles that had left me in the digital lurch (just 300 followers now). Many of the handles were “restricted” for “unusual activity.”

The “update” referred to Twitter’s newfound enthusiasm for cracking down on fake accounts. “The use of any form of automation to post identical… content or perform actions such as Likes or Retweets across many accounts… is not permitted,” Twitter said on February 21after it made changes to its API or code. Fake accounts made headlines last year after US intelligence agencies discovered Russian-controlled social media accounts had tried to influence the 2016 elections in the country. Twitter admitted to finding 50,000 such accounts following an internal investigation.

Last year in South Africa, a social media campaign using fake Twitter accounts trended hashtags like #RespectGuptas to whip up support for a powerful business family accused of corruption and manipulating government policies. The campaign was orchestrated by a PR firm employed by the family, and reportedly ended up fomenting racial tensions.

I now wrote to the agency formally, asking to speak with a representative for this story. The head was the person who had been responding to my customer care emails. My followers were bots, he told me, and had I called him before placing my order, he would have advised me against it. “The follower count drops and people complain,” he says.

Is Twitter’s crackdown going to be bad for business? Not really, he says. “Bots are popular because they’re cheap. They have been in demand for the last two years,” Arshad (name changed), who has been running his agency from a UP satellite town for three years, told me. SEO is among his most popular products, and his clients include celebrities, models, politicians and others “looking for fame”. There are some unlikely contenders too: “Doctors from Delhi and Dubai have bought packages to appear higher in ranking for medical tourists.”

It takes a bit of offline work too. Having a client appear on webpages categorised as news by Google helps. Ever the businessman, he says, “Could you name my company in another article? That way, it will come in the news list and the SEO ranking will improve.”

SHORTCUT TO FAME

Homemaker arrested for bludgeoning husband

Bengaluru: A 37-year-old homemaker has been arrested for allegedly murdering her husband two months ago in west Bengaluru, while her father and minor son have been held for destroying evidence.

C Ganesh, 47, a second-hand car dealer and real estate agent, was found dead at his rented house on 11th Cross, Vijayanagar, on January 20.

His wife, G Uma, lodged a complaint with Vijayanagar police, saying she and her 17-year-old son had gone to her father’s place in Shivamogga on January 18 and returned two days later to find her husband lying dead in a pool of blood. “While no valuables had been stolen, there were at least 12 deep injuries on Ganesh’s head, indicating it was an act of rivalry and not a murder for gain,” Vijayanagar police said.

Initially, police thought it was a case of business rivalry. “But neighbours told us that there was a huge fight at Ganesh’s house on the night of January 18 and they had seen Uma and her son going out late at night. The neighbours also said that Uma’s behaviour had changed since the day of the murder. We began suspecting her and subjected her to intense questioning, following which she confessed to the crime,” police said.

“Uma and her son cleaned the floor, packed the blood-soaked clothes and the iron rod and travelled to Shivamogga the same night. In Shivamogga, Uma told her father K Raju about the murder and Raju dumped the rod and the clothes at a deserted place. Uma returned to Bengaluru on the morning of January 20,” police added.

“Ganesh was an alcoholic and fought with Uma regularly. On January 18, Ganesh thrashed Uma and their son,” police said. A furious Uma bludgeoned Ganesh to death with an iron rod.

While Uma and Raju have been remanded in judicial custody, her son has been sent to a juvenile home.

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J’KHAND LYNCHING

BJP leader, 10 others get life in jail

Ramgarh: In the first sentencing in a case related to violence on the pretext of cow protection, a fast-track court in Jharkhand awarded life imprisonment on Wednesday to 11 convicts, including BJP’s Ramgarh district media incharge Nityanand Mahto, for lynching Alimuddin Ansari, a meat trader, in June last year.

While the 11 were found guilty under various sections of the IPC last week, the 12th person involved in the lynching is a minor and the prosecution has asked the juvenile justice board (JJB) to treat him as an adult as he is over 16 years of age and “was aware of the impact of his actions”. This plea is pending with the board.

Apart from Mahto, the convicted include three members of the local gau raksha samiti —Santosh Singh, Deepak Mishra and Chhotu Verma. The others are Vicky Sao, Sikandar Ram, Vikram Prasad, Raju Kumar, Rohit Thakur, Kapil Thakur and Uttam Ram. Fasttrack court judge Om Prakash found all of them guilty under various IPC sections, including 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), and 149 (unlawful assembly).

While prosecution lawyer S K Shukla said he had demanded capital punishment for the 11convicts, saying their offence fell in the “rarest of the rare category”, defence counsel Sanjeev Ambastha had prayed to the court to award the minimum punishment to the guilty as they had no previous criminal record. Reacting to the development, Ansari’s family said they were satisfied with the verdict.

Ansari, a 55-year-old meat trader from Manua village under Giddi police station in Ramgarh district, barely 50km from Ranchi, was lynched by a mob on June 29, 2017 for allegedly carrying beef in his car. The victim’s wife, Mariyam Khatoon, had filed an FIR at the Ramgarh town police station against 17 people and investigating officer Vidhyawati Ohdar filed a chargesheet against 12.

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Author: Ravikanth K.A.

I am a Rajakaluve and Lake encroachment investigator, advisor, consultant. Ravikanth is my name. I can tell you exactly which property is safe for you to buy and which one is not safe, even to be considered or given a second look, from the perspective of lake or rajakaluve or storm water drain encroachment and property demolition possibilities in the future (that will lead to your ultimate financial destruction). Below is given a brief description about my skills and the value addition that I can bring to your property purchase endeavour, when you plan to buy some property somewhere in Bangalore. Contact me on 8884284819 for appointment for a paid consultancy (on commercial terms) to get your property that you are planning to buy checked – to see if it has got any encroachment into any water body like a rajakaluve/storm water drain/naala/nala/water feeder canal or a lake etc. Even if it is in the no-construction zone, called buffer zone of a lake or a rajakaluve, as per NGT Rules and norms, you are not supposed to buy the property and if you do, you could be in trouble with demolition threats going forward (in the future) from the concerned authorities. Hence, dont by penny wise and pound foolish. Get your property checked by me before buying anything blindly anywhere in Karnataka especially in Bangalore. Contact me on 8884284819 for an expert opinion on all rajakaluve and lake encroachment investigation, advise and consultancy of any property that you wish to buy anywhere in Bangalore, both urban and rural areas (including the outskirts) of Bangalore. Connect with me – Ravikanth, to get your property papers investigated by me for encroachment related issues and also to find out how you can explore real estate opportunities with me – for advice on Real Estate Investment anywhere in Bangalore – Any Locality – Anywhere in Bangalore’s vast land mass of 8005 sq.km

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