Oh bot gate you saucy devil you. In case you missed the drama, slept through Easter or were too busy munching on your eggs (I don't blame you) - this bank holiday weekend has seen a bit of drama on the old Twitter/bloggersphere.
Basically in the shortest possible version; people are buying followers, particularly on Instagram (or at least that was the platform in the limelight this time). It's nothing new, people have done it for years. Essentially you can pay for bots to like and comment on Insta photos whilst you sit back and do something else and they also crucially follow and unfollow people. We all know the follow/unfollow saga, it's a given on social media but basically these bots will follow a bunch of people and one day will unfollow like 300 accounts. You'll probably know if you've been hit by one, I've had minor celebs and reality stars follow me and then unfollow a day or two later.
It's the following and unfollowing that's had a bit of a moment. This weekend people spent trawling their fav Instagram stars and bloggers on Social Blade where you can see some shady behaviour where suddenly over 500 accounts will be unfollowed in a day. These kinda stats *normally* mean a bot has been used and now because we can see ANYONE'S stats, well, people went fucking mental with power.
So what's my input? Might as well get a blog post out of a trending topic right?
Obviously nobody likes bots or buying followers, we are all trying to build a following before the algorithm came and slapped us round the face like a wet fish and now we're trying harder than ever. The majority of us are doing it organically and buying popularity is no new phenomenon. We all hate it, we all complain about the following unfollowing etc etc, we all know the bots exist, we know we can pay for it but it's when it gets someone an opportunity they don't deserve is when we lose our shit.
I think it all kicked off, not because it was a new thing people only just found out about but because suddenly we could see what every Tom Dick and Harry were up to, everyone became OBSESSED with seeing how big a blogger they could out.
We see these bloggers, these influencers who get the biggest and the best opportunities and we know these brand collabs come from the following these accounts have. Naturally brands want to work with the people who are going to give them the most exposure so they give opportunities to the 100K's and when we find out those people are buying followers? Well we feel a bit disheartened, obviously.
I personally didn't look at anyone's account except my own. I tracked my own Instagram on Social Blade in fear it'd look like I did something I didn't but when I saw my own stats were a ok I didn't go any further.
Some people took it to the extreme, some people spent the entire weekend searching for bloggers and influencers with a certain following size and outing them for what they were doing. It's been joked that it was a bit like that bit in Mean Girls when Regina is throwing papers along the corridors - it was the bloggersphere's very own burn book.
And I tweeted about it, like a lot of people did and I said 'if you're sub tweeting about buying followers just name and shame'. And I meant it.
I actually really hated the naming and shaming, it became like a witch hunt for bloggers and in the end I logged off Twitter for the day because it was doing my fucking nut. But what I hate even more is subtweeting. If you want to slate another blogger on social media, if you want to out someone, if you secretly love the attention your bitchy tweet is getting - have the fucking balls to tag them in it. Give them a chance to converse with you.
In the end, the burn book, the witch hunt, bot gate, whatever you want to call it - it all got too much. People were suddenly being outed who genuinely hadn't done anything, people were getting all riled up and completely mis understanding what was happening.
I saw tweets directed at people who then proved they hadn't bought a single thing. I saw tweets like 'CAN'T BELIEVE SO AND SO DID THIS' and there was nothing unusual about the stats. People jumped on it because it was trending and shocking and people were fuming but then as always mis information on what was normal and what was unusual activity meant people were slated and unfollowed for not doing anything wrong.
I think it's absolutely fine to be pissed off when you found out who was buying followers and using bots when it obviously directly affected their brand opportunities. It was shocking the amount of highly paid influencers were undergoing some shady activities and it was blood boiling when there are so many smaller so so genuine people who could do with the break.
But I think a lot of the anger was misdirected. If you don't like what the blogger was doing, don't sub tweet about them. Don't mention their name but not have the guts to tag them, it's shitty behaviour of your own.
She's spot on - it's all dramatic Twitter wars for 24 hours and then it's over, there's no action.
Don't like what a blogger is doing? Fine, me too but if you don't like that shit then unfollow. Stop tweeting, stop giving them air time, stop reading their blogs and stop following them on all social media platforms - you're adding to their fake following because you don't like what they do. Instead focus your energy on shouting about the real genuine people you DO like and help them build a following that means they might get the brand opportunities they deserve.
And then in the end, as shitty and as shady and as underhand as buying a following and using bots is, let's not forget it's Instagram and brands themselves that let them get away with this.
Instagram allows the use of bots, of PAYING for these bots to do the work for you. Instagram can detect it, hell we can detect it so a piece of software 578347584758 times more clever than us certainly can. But Instagram won't block them, won't block spam comments and won't block users who buy their following.
Brands KNOW people are buying followers, they KNOW some of the following isn't genuine but they still work the people who use bots because they're the hot topic, they are the ones WE are all still reading and following so taking the chance for 200K following, 50K of which might be fake is worth it for the 150 of us idiots still following.
See the shady bloggers for what they are, unfollow and move on with your day spreading the lurve for the bloggers you DO have time for.