Florida, New York reach settlement with company accused of using social media bots

By Florida Record | Apr 17, 2019

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody   Youtube screenshot

TALLAHASSEE -- The attorneys general of New York and Florida have reached a settlement with a company accused of selling fake social media engagement.

According to a news release from the Florida  Attorney General's Office, Devumi LLC sold fake social media engagement, such as followers, likes and views, on a variety of social media platforms.

“The investigation uncovered allegations that Devumi advertised itself as a social media marketer, promising to generate traffic from natural persons,” said the Florida Attorney General's Office. “Instead, the company sold automated bot traffic from artificial social media accounts.”

According to the settlement, cited by the news release, Devumi is required to pay a $50,000 fine in investigative fees and costs to the Florida Attorney General’s Office.

The release stated the settlement also requires Devumi to stop “advertising, selling, or offering to sell products or services from natural persons when the products or services are from bots.”

The office added that Devumi is prohibited from providing paid endorsement without disclosure and prohibited from using any natural person’s personal information without that natural person’s express authorization.

According to the release, the fake accounts enabled social media influencers to artificially increase followers and mislead consumers, by creating the perception that products or people online possessed stronger, more active social media followings or endorsements.

“The bots were designed to give the appearance that real people were expressing opinions, sharing information, or otherwise engaging in social media activity,” the Florida Attorney General's Office said.

In the prepared statement, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said: “Social media fraud is serious deception and can give users unwarranted influence. Through the use of bots, consumers may be tricked into believing a product, person or message is much more popular than it actually is.” 

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