Well it's been a while since I wrote anything on here (in fact it only happened once before.) But I thought I'd try and explain first of all why @followersinneed can be troubling and secondly, what they should do to stop it.
It is sad that many people these days are cynical and not willing to take the word of something initially offering money to charity. However the problem is that often we need to be sceptical.
For example (and I know this isn't on the same league but it shows how it works.) A couple of years ago a Facebook page was set up calling itself Glasgow University Freshers. Obviously this appealed to all university students about to start going to Glasgow University. It picked up 1000s of friends. Then come the day the name changed to a nightclub promo group who then had thousands of people to spam with their events. The page wasn't created or condoned by Glasgow University, and it certainly didn't have widespread appeal. It was spam. And fraudulent spam.
(If anyone else has other examples of this happening send me an email (email@example.com)/twitter (@gdhp).
Create a profile that will get a lot of followers/friends, to then use it for less honest purposes is worrying but does happen. Currently there is no proof that they won't turn around and turn it into a twitter page that sells vacuum cleaners or what have you.
Many people might think this is a small problem. If it's fake, people leave, no harm done. However this is not entirely the case. For instance as @DaveGorman has rightly pointed out:
"Charity-fatigue is a real problem.If they're fake they're not just not helping, they're doing harm."
Charity fatigues is a massive issue here. If it is fake, then groups like this spread the scepticism. If no one had ever had the idea of a fake profile then I wouldn't be sceptical in the first place. The next time a charity/wellwisher does this for real, more people will not follow it/join in because they fear it is fake. It can be damaging.
It's also worth noting that some people will fill following @followersinneed is doing their bit. By donating 50p via an effortless follow on twitter, some will feel that's 50p they then will keep to themselves and not spend at a charity back sale or something else. People will feel fulfilled for not doing anything to actually help.
There is no denying that setting up a fake profile is incredibly easy, for instance as @writerjames wrote:
"I could set up a sham account tonight, linking to Sport Relief, saying I'll give them a pound for every follower I get... how do you suggest Twitter users distinguish between yourselves and such a hypothetical sham?"
So there we have it. The account can be damaging and is very easily done, and has been done before.
So what should @followersinneed do. Simple.
Verify how they fundraise. Tell us how they pay 50p per follower. Where does this money come from?
The only logical method I can see where money would get donated via such a method is if the account is meant to turn into spam.
For instance they turn round to company x and go "we'll send out your product to 30,000 people if you pay 10p per one." Do that to 5 companies and you're in, that and the companies get a good advertising deal. Everyone wins.
If they are doing this it might explain their initial nervousness to explain how they work, however as much as they might lose temporarily with the initial 'urgh adverts' feeling, they'd gain in the long run as the likes of myself and other sceptics suddenly started following and told others to follow.
As @davegorman wrote no sooner than 15 odd minutes ago:
"DM me a phone number if you like. I'll give you a call. If real, I'll promote you to 100k! No need to be defensive."
That's better than a few people who'd leave.
However, it doesn't look like this is their fundraising method. After all their own description reads:
"Money is being raised in some local villages & large companies have donated money"
What have local villages got to do with @followersinneed? It certainly doesn't fit with the idea I wrote above.
I am not, and to make this perfectly clear I will write it in capitals, I AM NOT TRYING TO SAY THAT @FOLLOWERSINNEED IS FAKE!
I hope it is real. I hope they will respond to my pestering, or the perstering of many others and write one simple blog post, explaining how they raise their money.
I will announce at the bottom of this blog that FollowersInNeed is definitely genuine if they say:
1) How they raise the money
2) Who pays the money
3) How the followers will get verification that the money was sent at the end.
As I write they have 12,423 followers. That means £6,233 raised. That's enough money for the people who are helping to donate it to want to know it's definitely going to CIN.
I apologise for the cynicism that comes with this blog. But given how simple it would be for @followersinneed to verify this, it grows increasingly worrying when they don't.
So, presuming it is real, and hoping they happen to read this blog, @followersinneed please verify that you are genuine, so we can end this scepticism and I and @davegorman and a thousand others can get on with promoting your page and raising money for such a worthy cause.
If Followers In Need or anyone else wants to get in touch: