A few days ago, a blogger claimed Safaricom was rewarding fake Twitter accounts in a competition the mobile telco operator was running on social media. The blogger showed how the accounts – technically known as bots – were announced the winners of the #SafFunFriday in spite of minimum activity on their accounts and very similar Tweets with other winners.
The claims by the blogger were confirmed by several other techies who confirmed over 250 bots were created to participate in the competition.
Here is a dump of the suspects. The are not 10, not 20, not 50. They are 245 http://t.co/lLYr8xF53I
— Comptroller (@roomthinker) January 25, 2015
Safaricom, through a statement signed by the Corporate Affairs Director Nzioka Waita, has admitted the promotion was compromised.
“Following a thorough audit of all the activities involved in the running and subsequent evaluation of the short list for the winners we have established that the social media activation was compromised by one or possibly several of tech-savvy individuals who deployed “internet bots” to increase their chances of winning in the competition,” said Waita.
In the statement, Waita explains how the bots allowed the creators to increase their chance of winning by performing “tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate.”
The promotion required users to tweet as many times using the #SafFunFriday for a chance of winning devices and mobile airtime.
In addition to the bots, Safaricom admits they should have been more vigilant to pick the suspicious users and adds that the same bots were used in other competitions run by other companies.
“We apologize unreservedly for any inconvenience that those competing fairly in the said online promotion may have suffered. We wish to assure all our followers on Twitter that we have taken the appropriate steps to ensure this does not happen again during any of our future promotions.”