Jim Vidmar has rather unusual job: He oversees 10,000 fake Twitter accounts. And the Las Vegas man has been at it for six years, using a dozen computers and a slew of accounts to help beef up the followings of his 50-or-so clients, who pay him to help them seem more popular and important, reports the Wall Street Journal. And the accounts have gotten more sophisticated: In April, a tough new filter was applied, and the majority of Vidmar's accounts were wiped from the site. And so the vendors that sell the fakes to Vidmar put a little more work into them: The fakes now feature photos, profile details, and tweet a number of times before he buys them; he got 1,000 for $58 from a Pakistan supplier this month.
From there, he has the accounts tweet, retweet, follow, and message—all in the name of clients like "Rapper/Singer/Producer/Guitarist/Fitness Model" Dave Murrell aka @Fyrare (number of Twitter followers: 238,360). Murrell has tried Twitter ads, but says he gets more bang for his buck with Vidmar. Murrell doesn't exactly express any qualms: "If you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right. It's part of the game." And it's not just follower count that can be affected: Client Tony Benson (aka rapper Philly Chase) says Vidmar's fake accounts pushed him onto the "trending topics" list and eventually sparked the noticed of Philadelphia media. Buying and selling both accounts and followers is, of course, barred by Twitter's terms of service, but Vidmar notes he has never been contacted or threatened with legal action by Twitter. (Read more Twitter stories.)