In what could be a precedent-setting case, the FTC recently fined a US business over the sale of fake likes and followers.
Florida businessman German Calas Jr., owner of a company called Devumi, was fined $2.5 million over the sale of “fake indicators of social media influence.” Devumi was in the news last year as the subject of a well-publicized New York Times investigation.
It was discovered that Devumi was selling Twitter followers and engagement to celebrities, businesses, and anyone who wanted to pay to appear popular online. The New York Times reported Devumi managed to generate around $15 million in revenue from doing this.
Since then, Devumi shut down and later agreed to a $50,000 settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office. The FTC has now imposed a $2.5 million fine, although it will be suspended once $250,000 has been paid.
As mentioned, this case is particularly newsworthy as it sets a precedent for other cases. In the future, when legal action is taken against a company for selling fake likes and followers, lawyers will look to this case to determine the appropriate action to take.
In fact, since the fine was imposed against Devumi, the New York Attorney General announced it was taking legal action against other providers selling fake social media engagement.
If nothing else, this should at least deter companies from getting into the business of selling fake social media influence.
Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt has an uncanny ability to make the most complex subject matter easy to understand. When he’s not ferociously following and covering the search industry, he’s busy writing SEO-friendly copy that converts.