On Buying Your Friends


The San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s current cover story is about the culture surrounding Twitter bots that artificially inflate your follower count: who buys them, why, and where you can buy them yourself.

The story’s author, Caitlin Donohue, picked up a few thousand profane, banal nonhuman followers for $26, a process she describes as “like an Internet boob job,” and which seemed to send positive ripples into her real life.

Apparently, once the issue came out, Twitter did away with Donohue’s virtual acolytes. Alas.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →