Firms That Sold Fake Social Media Activity Settle With New York State


Companies that sold fake social media activity have reached a settlement with the state of New York in a case that, for the first time, established such activity as illegal, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday.

The now-defunct Devumi — along with three other companies owned by German Calas — sold fake followers and fake likes on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, using “bots” — computer-generated accounts — and real accounts pretending to be other people, Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

These fake accounts, which help artificially boost the popularity of certain accounts, “have been running rampant on social media platforms,” James said.

“This settlement marks the first finding by a law enforcement agency that selling fake social media engagement and using stolen identities to engage in online activity is illegal.”

“We are sending a clear message that anyone profiting off of deception and impersonation is breaking the law and will be held accountable,” she said.

The text of the settlement between the four companies and the attorney general’s office, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, did not mention any fines imposed on Calas — only that he and the other entities involved had pledged not to engage in similar behavior again.

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