Wall Street Journal - Inside a Twitter Robot Factory < 5min

Fake Activity, Often Bought for Publicity Purposes, Influences Trending Topics ... One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan. ... He then programmed the accounts to "follow" the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar's fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell's tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice. ... Mr. Murrell says he sometimes buys Twitter ads to raise his profile, "but you'll get more with Jim." He says many Twitter users try to make their followings look bigger than they are. "If you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right," he says. "It's part of the game."

Vanity Fair - The Art Market’s Modigliani Forgery Epidemic 13min

A skyrocketing interest in Amedeo Modigliani’s work is producing Picasso-level price tags, with major museum shows stoking the flame. Buyers are wary, though: the mystery surrounding one of the world’s most-faked artists has led to death threats, lawsuits, and hoaxes. ... Perhaps appropriately for one of the world’s most faked artists, there have even been fake fakes. Experts, meanwhile, are jockeying to be recognized as the ultimate authority on what should and should not be accepted as authentic. ... The stakes are high and are only getting higher. Modigliani prices, long dormant, have been climbing dramatically. Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver who built a fortune in the stock market and has become one of China’s leading art collectors, paid $170.4 million in 2015 at Christie’s in New York for a Modigliani painting, Nu Couché (Reclining Nude). The previous record for a Modi-gliani was $70.7 million, paid at Sotheby’s in 2014 for a carved-stone head of a woman. The acceleration in the Modigliani market is said to have begun in 2010 at a Christie’s sale in Paris, where a Modigliani sculpture, expected to sell for between $5 million and $7 million, went for $52 million. ... Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis in Paris in 1920 at the age of 35.