Saturday, April 6, 2013

Twitter Followers, Real Twitter Followers & Celebrity Twitter Followers

I’ve had a Mind The Rant Twitter account for about two years.  And during that time I’ve cultivated a vast throng of 117 loyal followers:

I know.  Not many.  Part of it is my fault: I don’t tweet enough.  And though it took me a while to cotton on to Twitter etiquette, which is nothing more than blatant logrolling, I’m proud to say I haven’t chosen to follow everyone who has chosen to follow me.

For instance, I’ve resisted those bizarre instant Twitter porn accounts where someone, putatively a hot woman, offers homespun aphorisms from The Hooker’s Almanac and provides a profile link to some URL with “sex” or “xxx” embedded in it.  I’m also sorta proud that the number of followers I maintain is always more than half the number of tweets I’ve posted.

But today I visited my account to see if I’d captured any new followers and discovered one of those instant ones—not a porn account, I’m relieved to say—from somebody named Renita Escarcega.  Renita has tweeted only 13 times, has 0 followers (4/7/13 update: 18 tweets and 112 followers!), and her profile contains only a link:

So, with a certain trepidation, I clicked on it and was taken to Twitter Valhalla, otherwise known as

As promises, the site can help you
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I was familiar with these appalling little businesses thanks to articles in the New York Times (one of which, “Fake Twitter Followers Becomes Multimillion-Dollar Business”, appeared only yesterday) but was still amused to discover that wisely distinguishes between delivering Twitter followers and Real Twitter followers, who are, naturally, twice the cost:

So how many Twitter followers does $20 buy?  Looks like 1,000.  Of course, economies of scale apply to harvesting Twitter followers just as naturally as harvesting wheat: $50 buys you 5,000 followers, $80 buys 10,000, $170 buys 30,000, and $420 buys a whopping 100,000 followers.  (That’s less than half a cent a follower!)

Of course, the more you want the longer it takes.  Up to 5,000 takes 24 hours, up to 30,000 takes 48 hours, and up to 100,000 takes 72 hours.  And for those 100,000 follower orders, you have to wonder how it’s done.  Delivering all of them for less than half a cent a piece at a profit suggests bots at work. Even in a developing country it seems implausible that anyone is willing to sign on to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to create Twitter accounts for a quarter of a cent per account.

That’s where Real Twitter Followers come in.  They’re more costly and they take longer to harvest: 1,000 cost $40 and take an entire week to deliver.  That’s 4 cents per follower—so, I’d think, easily within reach of a Mechanical Turk job offering 2 cents per Twitter signup.  With Real Twitter Followers the upper limit is also far smaller: you can’t go higher than 10,000, and, perversely, they’ll cost you more per account than 1,000 followers: $580 or 5.8 cents per signup.

Yet after going back over the terms I discovered that claims that both Twitter Followers and Real Twitter Followers are sourced the same way, by real people:

And how about the most expensive Twitter followers of all?  Celebrities, of course!

Hey: looks like we’re in luck: is offering a $20-off special:

Expensive?  Sure.  But don’t forget:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Goodreads, Amazon, Anna Karenina: Coincidence?

Last week, when Amazon announced that it had bought community reading site Goodreads for an undisclosed sum, there was plenty of sturm und drang about what Amazon would do with the treasure trove of Goodreads data about the books its members read, rate, and recommend.

Would Amazon start posting Goodreads reviews on Amazon?  Would it start selling cameras and lawn mowers to Goodreads members?  As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Amazon’s acquisition has already “set off a backlash among some fans of the popular site who treasured its independence.”

So, as an Amazon customer and a Goodreads member, let me report an interesting coincidence.

Just last Saturday I added Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s translation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to my Goodreads My Books list.  (I’m about a third of the way through it, with mixed impressions so far. When I'm done, will I join the ranks of the 10,292 Goodreads members who have already posted reviews?  Not sure.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when Amazon sent me an email this morning with the two-word subject line Anna Karenina.

When I opened it, this is what I saw:

Is Amazon taking advantage of Goodreads member data already?  Sure, this film adaptation of Anna Karenina is a recent release—hey, it’s the reason I started reading the novel in the first place—and yes, I’m a TiVo owner who has rented and bought movies and TV shows from the Amazon Instant Video Store, whose new movies this email is touting.

As I said, it could be just a coincidence.