Earlier this year, the New York Attorney General reached a “precedent-setting” settlement with Devumi LLC, a third-party website, over its sale of fake followers, “likes,” and views to customers on all major social media platforms. Devumi utilized computer-operated “bot” accounts and “sock-puppet accounts” (where an online user pretends to be one or many other people) to give the appearance of genuine social media engagement.
The settlement states that Devumi’s deceptive business practices attempted to affect the decision-making of social media audiences including users’ decisions about what content merits their attention and consumer buying decisions. Devumi even deceived some of its own customers who mistakenly believed they were paying for authentic endorsements.
Devumi settled with the New York AG for $50,000 and it marks the first instance in which a law enforcement agency has successfully taken action against fraudulent social media activity.
Takeaway: In addition to the FTC, state attorneys general will assert jurisdiction over the use of fake followers to influence the promotion and sale of goods and services.