NY AG investigating group that sells fake Twitter followers
© Getty

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Saturday began an investigation of a group that sells fake Twitter followers, The New York Times reports.

Devumi, an American company known as a so-called follower factory, has sold more than 200 million fake Twitter followers to other users in the global marketplace. 

Devumi has created millions of "bot" accounts, some of which take information from real users, that people buy to build an audience on Twitter. 


"Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law," Schneiderman tweeted. "We’re opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities."

Twitter said that the company's tactics, as described in a previous Times report, "violate our policies and are unacceptable to us." 

"The growing prevalence of bots means that real voices are too often drowned out in our public conversation," Schneiderman said. "Those who can pay the most for followers can buy their way to apparent influence." 

News of the investigation comes amid growing scrutiny in Congress over the use of social media in influencing politics. Russia-linked groups were behind a number of fake social media accounts that spread inaccurate or misleading stories to try and sway the 2016 presidential election. Social media companies have come under intense scrutiny over their failure to stop the disinformation campaigns.