Who is Santiago Swallow?

A fascinating post by Kevin Ashton at Quartz on how easy it is to create a fake profile and website and become “Internet famous.” His price tag in creating an account and web site under the alias of Santiago Swallow cost $68:

Creating Santiago and the online proof of his existence took two hours on the afternoon of April 14 and cost $68. He was conjured out of keystrokes in a matter of minutes. I generated his name on “Scrivener,” a word processor for writers and authors. I turned the “obscurity level” of its name generator up to high, checked the box for “attempt alliteration,” and asked for 500 male names. My choices included Alonzo Arbuckle, Leon Ling, Phil Portlock and Judson Jackman, but “Santiago Swallow” just leapt out as perfect. I gave Santiago a Gmail account, which was enough to get him a Twitter account.

Then I went to the web site fiverr.com, the online equivalent of a dollar store, and searched for people selling Twitter followers. I bought Santiago 90,000 followers for $50, all of whom would, he was assured, appear on his Twitter profile within 48 hours. Next I gave him a face by mashing up three portraits from Google images using a free trial copy of Adobe’s “Lightroom” image manipulation software. I gave Santiago his “Twitter verified account” check box by putting it onto his cover image right where his name would appear. It will not fool many people, but might give him a little extra credibility with some. By the time I uploaded these images to Twitter, Santiago had developed a large “following,” even though he did not have a profile and had never tweeted anything.

So that’s one way to become Internet famous. (I don’t encourage or endorse this method, of course.)

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