The New York Times recently did a deep dive on the “Follower Factory,” or the new practice of Twitter users buying bot followers to boost their signal. Comedian and TV writer Joe Mande did it on a lark—and has kind of lived to regret, since he quit Twitter and all—but this inorganic growth of your base is big business. It’s also questionable enough to lead to some consequences for the folks who have taken advantage, including Chicago film critic and columnist Richard Roeper.
As Robert Feder reports, the Chicago Sun-Times has suspended Roeper after the NYT’s report revealed he’d purchased bot followers. Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco said the paper is looking into the matter: “We’re investigating these issues. We will not be publishing any reviews or columns by Rich until this investigation is complete.” Roeper has been with the Sun-Times for 35 years, where he’s been an editorial assistant, columnist, film critic, and even co-hosted Ebert & Roeper with the late Roger Ebert. He declined to comment on the Times’ story or his suspension.