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New York prosecutor to investigate Devumi firm for selling online followers

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New York’s chief prosecutor will investigate a company that, according to a New York Times article published on Saturday, sold millions of fake followers on social media accounts to celebrities and others wanting to goose their online presence.

Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general, said the company, Devumi, would be undermining the internet’s use as a tool for transparency and democracy if, as the Times reported, it was selling so-called bots using identities stolen from real social media users.

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“Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law,” Schneiderman wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “The growing prevalence of bots means that real voices are too often drowned out in our public conversation. Those who can pay the most for followers can buy their way to apparent influence.”

Devumi advertises itself on its website as selling online followers for various social media platforms, including Pinterest and YouTube. It promises Twitter users they can buy up to 500,000 additional followers from the company, which describes itself as “committed to the goal of increasing your social media presence and credibility with guaranteed results.”

The company, which did not respond to questions on Saturday, told the Times it did not sell fake users or steal real people’s identities.

The Times reported that it bought followers from Devumi and said many of them were evidently fake. It interviewed some of the real social media users whose profile pictures and biographical details had apparently been stolen.

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The Times said famous actors, television presenters and entrepreneurs were among those who bought Devumi followers.

Twitter is working to stop Devumi and similar companies, it said in a statement on Saturday. “The tactics used by Devumi on our platform and others as described by today’s NYT article violate our policies and are unacceptable to us,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen)

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‘You can smell the corruption’: MSNBC’s Morning Joe burns Nikki Haley for selling her soul to take Pence’s job

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough offered a warning to his old pal, Vice President Mike Pence: Watch out, because Nikki Haley wants your job.

The former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador has been making the rounds promoting a new book -- and praising President Donald Trump as truthful and competent, and the "Morning Joe" host said there's only one explanation for Haley squandering her reputation before the 2024 election.

"I have one word for Mike Pence, my friend -- duck," Scarborough said. "I mean, Nikki Haley, unless she wanted the job, would not -- would not so besmirch her own reputation. She just said she had no question as to Donald Trump's fitness for the job."

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Trump administration officials ‘ducking for cover’ as search for Anonymous author roils White House

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According to Politico, the Trump administration is putting on an unconcerned face about the release of "A Warning" by the anonymous New York Times op-ed writer, insisting that the passages revealed so far from the book do not expose anything new about the goings-on in the White House.

Nevertheless, wrote Daniel Lippman, the book has produced a headache for the White House: a redoubled effort by reporters and political observers to deduce who exactly "anonymous" is.

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CNN’s John Berman tears apart leaked GOP anti-impeachment talking points piece by piece

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CNN's John Berman on Tuesday tore apart Republicans' new anti-impeachment talking points and expressed astonishment that this was the best they could come up with to defend President Donald Trump.

Referring to talking points first reported by Axios, Berman went over the GOP's arguments line by line and showed why they are unlikely to convince anyone of the president's innocence.

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