Your Social Media Fake Follower Attack FAILED – What To Do If It Happens To You

Last Sunday morning seemed like any other. I got up, pressed the on button on the coffee maker and awaited my normal rapid and lengthy infusion of coffee bliss as I started up the laptop in the office. I moved to the family room so I could hear if the baby boy woke up and began to open my normal and numerous tabs that are always running when I am in the pilot seat.

As usual I started in Hootsuite, checking follows and mentions, then migrated to counts from overnight. WHAT? I went from 48,176 followers to nearly 75,000 followers. Alarm bells sounded as I stared at it, my mind racing…

Someone has purchased followers for my Twitter account. Clearly this is an attempt to discredit my solid reputation in the industry. Who could have done such a thing, I wondered?

Knowing I have no enemies in this business, there is only one single person that has any motivation to do this to me. Can it be proven? No, so we will not worry about the who and simply move to what YOU need to know if some crazed bully, freak does this to you or your brand, or if a client of yours happens to buy some twitter followers to “help you” in your social media marketing efforts of their brand.

Before we cover how to handle these two scenarios, let me first answer a question I know some of you are thinking…

How is it even possible for someone to purchase followers for another persons Twitter account?

Trust me it is all too simple. Just take a look at the tons of fake followers on the Presidential candidates Twitter accounts using the Status People’s Faker App. Do you think these two campaigns are dumb enough to purchase followers? Of course not, their many emotionally charged supporters are doing it on their behalf, to either discredit the other side or to make their candidate appear more popular.

Regardless, Twitter does NOT allow purchasing of fake followers. So no company selling such followers would ever be allowed access to the twitter API for their product. Therefore, all that is required to purchase followers is your credit card and the Twitter name of the account you wish to buy followers for. No validation of ownership, no required login to the effected Twitter account. Nothing.

In the case of influential social media professionals, they know better than to buy fake followers. Anyone in this business that speaks at events, consults brands or manages other clients social media programs that actually know what they are doing, would never buy or leave purchased followers on their account. That shows a complete incompetence. In fact, I have heard the “I’ve been hacked excuse” by such fraudulent social media experts, in order to cover up their fake follower purchases. But let’s say that occurred (even though it’s hogwash), the question remains, why have you not removed them. Why are you falsely inflating your community size? Are you a liar, a fraud or are you just incompetent? Not too many other choices.

Enough of the rant… Here are the steps you need to take if your account has been falsely pumped up with purchased followers on Twitter:

1) Visit ManageFlitter and login

2) Make sure you’re in the Unfollow menu at the top of the page.

3) Choose “Fake Followers” on the left side.

4) Click on “Fast Select” to be able to select 100 at a time.

5) Drag the cursor across the icons to choose 100.

6) Click on “Force 100 to Unfollow You”

7) Click on the next page # button.

8) Repeat until there are no other fake followers found.

In less than a few hours I was all cleaned up and back to normal. Here’s my faker report I pulled before this occurred, anticipating this might happen.

So my message to the sick individual that wasted their money in an attempt to make me look bad, I say nice try. I am pleased to know you wasted what little money you have. You not only didn’t accomplish what you wanted to, you made my Sunday even better through the support and love shown to me by many. I am a social media professional and would NEVER leave fake followers in my Twitter community to appear influential. Why are you?

My message to the brand or individual social media user, don’t purchase fake followers on Twitter in order to look influential. You will be caught by someone eventually and only ruin your brand and reputation. If you are harassed by someone, or your client has purchased followers that you need to get removed, you now know the process, tool and steps to do so quickly.


34 thoughts on “Your Social Media Fake Follower Attack FAILED – What To Do If It Happens To You

  1. Excellent post, Robert and thanks for the tip about using ManageFlitter, haven’tused it for awhile.
    While our Fake Follower scores are identical (just pruned some inactives which should bring me to 99% Good :-), there are a few within our circle of acquaintances that have very low “good” followers.

    Now if their twitter following number was the only thing that gave them influence rank, I’d be more concerned. But I’m not sure how I feel about it. Are they just sloppy and don’t care that the majority of their followers are fake? Or do they feel that most people will just see the high number and not be aware that fake followers even exist and therefore worth the risk of being seen as “size queen”?

    In other words, does it affect your opinion of someone, especially if they’re in the social media business?

    1. Yes it effects my opinion of their character and/or competence if they knowing or unknowing have a ton of fake followers. That makes them either incompetent or misleading, or both. Not sure either are acceptable.

  2. Nice job Robert, I am fortunate that I did not have to hit the fast select, only found 18, but I keep a close eye on my accounts. Yes unfortunately there are fakers and account manipulators out there who have learned to game the system. Gotta stay on it, and this info will no doubt help anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

  3. WOW. I’m at a loss. Who would stoop to such lows?? Clearly someone who finds you threatening and has insecurities beyond conventional help. And did I mention maniacal?

    What great poise you’ve shown by resolving the issue, being 100% transparent AND showing the next guy how to solve the problem if it happens to him/her. You are truly a leader in the social sphere. Thank you for your continual support (to me personally, too), your passion for social GOOD and for turning the other cheek in the face of evil. You’ve provide many of us with an excellent role model.

  4. As always, got your back and will share your spot-on content and analysis of a situation gone no just bad, but ridiculous. You’ve proven both your professionalism, your knowledge and your willingness to share your knowledge freely for the benefit of your followers, friends and new connections!

  5. Great advice Robert. I’m taking a look at my account right now. It’s unfortunate that you had to spend time dealing with this. Glad to see your positive attitude shining through to rise above the jerk who did this.

    1. there’s no need to look at your account. You’d know immediately if you were attacked this way. Now you also know what to do if it every happens to your or your brand! :-)

      Thanx for your support my friend

  6. Looks like black hat SEO rearing its ugly head in the social sphere. Although these tactics would have a lot more impact on Facebook than Twitter. Theoretically, I can sign a competitor’s FB page up for one of those scam services, and really do some damage. But Twitter lacks the same kind of oversight/enforcement to my knowledge. Wonder why your perp picked Twitter instead?

  7. No surprise to me, been there done that! It is unfortunate that it is so easy to inflict venom with something that brings us in touch with fascinating minds, engaging conversations and intriguing cultures. It is bound to happen, vanity, a bitch of a sin.
    Stay strong my good friend as I know you are!

  8. Wow! After reading this three things immediately come to mind: 1.) the person who did this must not be the all knowing business leader they think they are to think you couldn’t figure this out so quickly 2.) if this person is providing services to clients for money and doing this type of thing to look successful, wonder what the clients think when their social media program produces exactly ZILCH for their business? 3.) the person really underestimated you and probably other ethical folks who work hard to help others find success. Good Luck with this situation and for standing beside those who need your help.

  9. I would have been hot under the collar. I was excited and exhilarated to know that your honor and integrity could thwart such an attack against you. And as mentioned above, you made this into an awesome positive and teaching moment. Regards, Elizabeth

    1. When lying starts to get really deep and people doing it don’t have the technical knowledge to cover their tracks, you can rest assured the truth will come out.

  10. Robert,

    It sounds like we know who had a motive, but I wouldn’t be so sure that the perp is who you think it is. There are dozens of people with Fake followers. Many are likely still within your circle of online friends and acquaintances. I ran just about everyone’s name when the Faker tool came out, and it didn’t really surprise me that if you pull up just about any influencer list, 30 percent of the people listed will have 10% or more fake followers.

    Anyone with a large fake following has incentive to discredit you if they were witness to the last time we covered this topic. You may pull the covers off of them next time. Even if there was no public statement along the lines of “it effects my opinion of their character and/or competence if they knowing or unknowing have a ton of fake followers. That makes them either incompetent or misleading, or both”, knowing which people that list legitimate followers among their code of ethics probably makes someone with a large fake following have a secret grudge. Wondering if you know they’re a fake, knowing that if you do, they’re a joke in your eyes. You’ll notice that most prominent fakers will stay as far away from a discussion like this as possible. I think that ego, the same predisposition to cultivate a large fake following, is a precursor to launching a clandestine attack like this. So one thing is for sure if you ask me: The person who did this used the same service that they buy followers from haha!

    I believe Twitter will also clear fake followers if you catch them in a timely manner. You just have to point out when it started, they can probably do it in less than 10 minutes. I didn’t know that there was a feature on Manage Flitter to force unfollows though. Great Tip!

    1. Adam,

      I totally hear what you are saying and in theory you are right. However, it has been some time since writing a piece on fakes and frauds, yet the purchased followers coincides directly with another situation. Furthermore, as I mentioned in the piece, I was prepared for such a thing, since my research told me that the others had experienced the same thing after run ins with them. Again, coincidence? Not likely, but not provable.

      Furthermore, you can’t just use the faker app. You must take it further with reports on When you take a look at BOTH you get a clear indisputable indication of not only that followers were purchased but exactly when.

  11. Excellent post Robert! Love your unabashed style! It’s pathetic that people waste their time on such things, especially when there are so many positive things they could do with their energy and efforts. Thanks for the expose and info! Much appreciated!

  12. Aces blog man! I remember when I first joined “The Twitter” I was all about all the Team Follow Back crap as I wanted the higher numbers. It wasn’t until I took a real look at what I wanted out of the experience, that I decided to stop with the lousy tactics. I would rather have 100 people following me that actually care about what I have to say than 1000 people who have nothing invested.
    Great tool for us to use and solid point Robert!

    Have a swell day!

  13. Great post Robert! Now I have some new tools in my arsenal to use and I can un-follow large groups of people quickly, unlike the Flint Stone approach on twitter of one person at a time. Kind of like speed dumping. Fortunately I only had 9 fake followers but getting rid of those who never tweet in my native language and all those others who waste twitter space saying stuff that is non essential or irrelevant to the times we are living in was really nice to do. Hope I did not create a disturbance in the twitter universe. :-o by dumping so many people quickly. Of course I have to keep following you and you have great content and it helps us with so many aspects of social media and life. Thanks again for making my life easier. Aloha!

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