Maybe you remember Sarah Phillips, the ESPN freelancer who went around using “her” ESPN credentials to help scam people? When Deadspin outed her, they picked up our story about how “Ms. Phillips” bought thousands of Twitter followers to help her build her phony online persona.
Well, we have yet another sports gambling personality buying Twitter followers to help them build a phony online persona and it’s none other than Danny Sheridan.
Sheridan, as you may know, is a “handicapper” and “sports analyst” for USA Today. He gained notoriety when he claimed to know who Cam Newton’s “bagman” was but, of course, never provided any verifiable details. He claims to be able to beat the spreads in Â the NFL and college football year after year but, by the way, he’s also said he hasÂ never actually wagered on games. And, it seems, his picks aren’t monitored or tracked by any reputable third party.
Given all this, perhaps it’s not at all surprising that Sheridan has resorted to the latest online spam tactic: buying Twitter followers. See, Sheridan had a reasonable following on Twitter. He joined Twitter in July 2011 and, after 10 months, he had accumulated approximately 11,000 followers. Not bad. But then something happened.
Sheridan’s follower count skyrocketed from 11,000 to nearly 200,000 in just 8 weeks. And then, in the following 2 weeks, he tacked on another 120,000 followers to bring his total follower count to 333,900. Now, this meteoric rise in Danny Sheridan’s popularity is hard to explain (see graph below). After all, the guy has been writing for USA Today for ages so why, suddenly, did Sheridan become such a big hit on Twitter?
Did he start dating Kim Kardashian? Nope.
Did Justin Bieber name Sheridan his favorite Captain Kangaroo look-alike? Nope.
Sheridan’s surging popularity has nothing to do with Bieber or Kardashian. It has everything to do with dollars and cents. See, Sheridan bought Twitter followers. Or whoever runs his account bought Twitter followers. And yes, you can buy Twitter followers. And yes, it’s pretty cheap to do so.
85,000 Twitter followers costs you about $457 from one spam outfit. Since Sheridan’s follower count has jumped about 320,000 followers, that would require a total “investment” of about $1,600. But there are other Twitter follower sellers out there, sadly, so perhaps Danny and his team shopped around and found a better deal.
How can we be so sure that Sheridan bought followers? Well, let’s take a look at some of Danny’s new followers.
Oh look, old @1388005612 follows Danny. You’re not familiar with him/her? Of course you’re not because it’s a spambot.
It’s obvious it’s a spambot because it follows 341 accounts but has no followers and has never tweeted. And it’s the exact same profile you’ll see with thousands of Sheridan’s newest followers.
When Beyond the Bets called Sheridan out for buying Twitter followers, Sheridan denied it. He claims his meteoric rise is simply the result of him plugging his Twitter handle on radio interviews. That’s more laughable than Sheridan’s website.
Of course, spam has been around since the advent of the internet. But this particular type of Twitter spam is a bit different. See, most online spammers send spam solicitations (in one for or another) to people who never asked for those solicitations. They send billions of emails. Or they build Twitter spambots that will automatically send links to real Twitter users in hopes those real users will click through.
But the type of person who buys Twitter followers is a special breed of spammer. Buying followers is, if you think about it, the height of narcissism. You’re buying followers to dupe casual Twitter users into thinking you’re more popular and influential than you really are. Â In turn, you’re hoping the phony popularity will help translate into actual popularity as legitimate users flock to a seemingly ‘popular’ Twitter user.
It’s so very 21st century. And so very pathetic.
P.S. In the time it took us to write and edit this article, Sheridan has gained another 5,656 followers. What a guy.