Buying Friends Online


Who says money can’t buy you love? Well, maybe if not exactly buy you love, money can certainly buy followers and likes. For as cheaply as a fast food meal, companies can buy thousands of followers, and have the followers interact with the site, sharing photos and tweets.

Spend $5, get 1,000 new followers. Need more than that? Spend $1,500 and get 1,000,000 new followers. Still need more? Daily deals abound. Today’s deal: Buy 50,000 Twitter followers and get 10,000 Retreats for free!

It’s not just Twitter followers. Companies also sell followers for Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. Also available are targeted followers in categories such as Spanish, U.K., Canadian, Arabic, and Japanese.

Of course, all these new friends are not really human; they are bots, but were built to behave like people behave on social media sites. They look like real people online, and can have huge power on the Internet – swaying public opinion, establishing new trends, and influencing political agendas. Be careful who you friend.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the power of social media, likes and followers, in marketing products and companies.
  2. View sites for buying followers:

(Google search terms ‘buy online followers’ for more.)

  1. Divide students into teams. Have each team research one of the sites, terms, prices, processes, etc.
  2. Debrief by having each team explain the process to the class.
  3. Discuss the ethical and legal issues of the bots.

Source: New York Times


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