It's not everyday that a major virus originally used to steal credit card information does an about-face. But, that's exactly what's happening with a virus dubbed 'Zeus.'
Zeus was used to steal around $70 million from U.S. banks not too long ago (originating from Eastern Europe). Now, that virus is being used to help companies and individuals generate fake Twitter followers.
Why Fake Followers?
There's big money in fake Twitter followers. The more followers a person or brand has, the more credibility that brand or person also has. It might not make sense, but it's the way that the social cookie crumbles. Marketers can now purchase packages of fake Twitter followers created by the Zeus virus through the same hacker forums that are used to sell stolen credit card numbers.
Just how much does it cost to purchase fake Twitter or Instagram or other social media followers? Roughly $30 for 1,000 likes or $15 for 1,000 follows. That's not a lot of money, and it's peanuts to a business that needs Twitter and Instagram followers in order to function. This might not be huge news to those in the know, but it is the first time that a virus has ever been used to create fake Twitter followers - and that's big news.
What's Being Done About It
Social media companies like Twitter are trying to fight back against fake followers. If the word gets out there there are thousands or millions of fake followers on social media sites, those sites will, in turn, lose credibility. Social media companies are trying to prevent these fake follows from happening by implementing stronger security measures, but that's a really tough thing to do.
The fact of the matter is that social media breeds bandwagoners, and those people, in turn, cause a product or name to trend. When something is trending, that turns into money for a person or brand. It's all a very vicious circle that has people paying a small amount of money for a number of followers, likes, and other services.
Interesting fact: it now costs more to purchase social media likes and followers than it does to buy a list of credit card numbers - and we're talking small amounts of money, here, like $5 to $15 a pop. That's the kind of money that most people can easily afford, and many can't afford not to cash in on.
Should You Buy Followers?
Companies are trying very hard to crack down on fake followers and likes, but it's not going to happen anytime soon. Unfortunately, having a number of social media followers will bring you some instant credibility in the Internet world, and that's something that is really valuable.
On the flip side, if you are caught buying likes or followers, your account could be closed down. In turn, your credibility could be ruined too. So, you see, it's a slippery slope. It's also a slope that now includes programs that were once viruses - a first for hackers and marketers everywhere.