Buying followers on Twitter is probably the worst kept secret in all of social media. Tim Farley (from Whatstheharm.net and virtualskeptics.com) gets a mention in this piece for his work uncovering the fake followers to a political group.
The practice of buying Twitter followers (or Facebook fans, Instagram followers, etc.) is as old as social media itself, hinged on the archaic notion that quantity trumps all in the social interaction sphere. Some of the most well-known politicians and celebrities in our social strata are accused of puffing up their own numbers with these followers — often assessed as thoughtless and friendless robots keen on spamming Viagra ads — to make themselves seem more influential and dominant on the platform of choice. But, on the other side of the coin, startups and rookie social media experts can just as easily be drawn in by a siren song of this so-called “follower economy,” with its promise of instant credibility and cache in the wider community.[...] One such eye belongs to Tim Farley, a software developer and fellow at the James Randi Educational Foundation, where he studies and debunks hoaxes. Intrigued with the implications and accusations flying during the political cycle, Farley began looking at the activities of a Californian political group assembled for an election proposition called “CA Right To Know.” The number of followers — which jumped up as high as 95,000 sudden bursts — struck Farley.
The article includes references to how buying followers can be spotted and how it can backfire. Also, there are hints to the right way of picking up followers.