It’s official: buying followers is still a bad idea.

In fact, it’s so bad that selling fake followers and likes is now illegal and Facebook and Instagram are cracking down on the people or companies that do it. The social media organizations filed a lawsuit recently against several of those providers.

“Today, Facebook and Instagram filed a lawsuit in US federal court against four companies and three people based in the People’s Republic of China for promoting the sale of fake accounts, likes and followers,” said Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel, litigation for Facebook in the announcement. “We’re also enforcing our rights under US intellectual property law for their illegal use of our trademarks and brand. By filing the lawsuit, we hope to reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated – and that we’ll act forcefully to protect the integrity of our platform.”

The announcement comes at a time when influencer marketing is on the rise and when social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are facing additional pressures to verify the number of users and reduce the spread of fake news by delegitimizing bots.

The lawsuit is another step beyond simply banning businesses that sell fake followers from the respective platforms. Specifically it asks the courts to prevent these people and entities from:

  • Creating and promoting the sale of fake accounts, likes, and followers on Facebook and Instagram
  • Infringing on our trademarks on their websites
  • Using Facebook branded domain names to operate their websites, which is also called cyber squatting.

“Inauthentic activity has no place on our platform,” Grewal said. “That’s why we devote significant resources to detecting and stopping this behavior, including disabling millions of fake accounts every day.”

As marketers, we have always preached that quality of followers far exceeds the value of quantity. You should never purchase followers or any form of interaction, anyway, because it is a deceptive practice and, ultimately, a waste of money. Instead, grow your audience organically by cultivating your email lists, creating great content and building up your brand loyalty.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? Let us know in the comments!