26/07/2012 12:51 BST | Updated 25/09/2012 06:12 BST

Fake Twitter Followers: To Buy or Not to Buy?

On Wednesday Tory MP Louise Mensch took to Twitter to deny she had purchased any fake Twitter followers after the number of those following her jumped by 40,000 in a matter of days.

She says she hasn't purchased any of the new followers and has asked Twitter to remove them, but she isn't the only one who has had the sudden spike in followers.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney also was accused of buying followers when his account surged by 135,000 followers.

The more followers someone has on Twitter and other social networks means it is more likely real people are going to follow them and the more credible they appear.

But how easy is it to buy Twitter fame?

A Google search for 'buy Twitter followers', brings up 340,000,000 results with one UK website offering 1,000 followers for £19, ranging up to 20,000 followers for £129.

The new followers to be gained are all fake or spam accounts and offer little more than a number to those buying them.

In an attempt to defend buying Twitter followers, to anyone who does not know they are fake, it gives a user the impression of being worth following, of being someone important and someone who is interesting.

If someone has a large amount of people willing to follow them then more real ones are likely to join.

Everyone who uses Twitter wants to have thousands of followers, be retweeted by the masses and see themselves trend. There's very much a competitive nature to having a high number of followers and be popular.

It's all very egotistical.

However, for businesses it could give a fake impression of success and trustworthiness. A company, which has tens, if not hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, will look more reputable than one, which does not - even though they may be fake. And this could drive business up.

Also, for an individual, it could be an unfair advantage when applying for a job or similar. As the world grows increasingly digital and the importance of our online world grows being seen (on first impression) of having influence may be an advantage.

However, the concept of buying Twitter followers decreases the value of the whole social network. Like inflation if everyone has thousands of followers they won't be worth anything at all and no one will be able to tell who has the real influence online.

Real followers are earned on the website and can only be attainted by being entertaining, informative, passionate, interesting or by having something to say. Everyone started off with the same amount of followers.

Twitter is supposed to be about interacting with other users, so even though follower counts may bolstered it won't make any difference to the amount of retweets and mentions are coming your way.

It's called social media for a reason - and from my experience spam bots and fake accounts aren't that chatty.