The Black Market of Fake Influencers

By Bruno Uehara

Behind pages with millions of followers, you sometimes find “ghost profiles” who are not real people. The mini documentary “The Fake Influencer” reveals how easy it is to fake numbers.

Digital influencers have conquered an important space in strategic planning in many different companies. With their high potential in reach and engagement on social medias, it is possible to achieve exceptional results, but the number of likes, comments and views of a post do not always represent the real impact. Behind the statistics there might be thousands of ghost profiles – known as bots – bought by fake influencers that forge the relevance of their own profile.

“Many influencers have seen the opportunity to make a living out of this, and living very well. Eager to grow fast, they simply resort to buying followers”, reveals Luis Diaz, CEO of the agency H2H, specialized in influencer marketing and responsible for the mini-documentary “The fake influencer”.

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The film, available on YouTube with English subtitles, reveals the creation of a fake fashion blogger who is sought after by several brands. With an investment of 500 euros, she supplies the brand with one hundred thousand followers in just a few days, receiving benefits in exchange for posts on her Instagram profile. Among the things she receives, are invitations for fashion events, free hotel stays and free restaurant meals, including a plus one.


“Today, it is very easy to buy followers on just about any social media. You just need to search for “buy followers” on Google and several options of sites that offer the service, including the possibility of choosing the type of followers that you want will appear.” warns Laura Raimundo, campaign manager at the agency.

Due to the situation, Instagram has responded radically, ending the activities of several platforms specialized in the commercialisation of followers, such as Instagress, PeerBoost and InstaPlus – the latter still being available in Portuguese, offering monthly subscriptions for BRL 99,00.

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A recent PR News article pointed out similar cases on Twitter, where you can find different fake users – copies of real people – mainly responsible for the spreading of fake news. The text gives a few tips on how to spot frauds: check the variety of posts, if the same photos appear several times in the newsfeed, check if people interact with each others comments only with hashtags or emojis and check if the network of friends include apparently normal people.

“The responsibility is everybody’s, including brands and agencies”, comments Díaz regarding the deceitful profiles.”We need to fight these frauds mainly through professionalism on the market” he says, emphasizing the importance of identifying real influencers as communications channels who can generate credibility, transmitting key messages in a fast and efficient manner.