Just a few months after The New York Times broke the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, the publication has broken another scandal wide open, which may have cost a prominent film critic his job. The Chicago Sun-Times announced that film critic Richard Roeper has been suspended by the newspaper, after his name was mentioned among many prominent actors, athletes, influencers and many more, who have used a shady company known as Devumi to purchase fake Twitter followers to enhance his social media presence. Here's what Chicago Sun-Times editor-in-chief Chris Fusco said in a statement.
"We became aware over the weekend of issues relating to Rich Roeper's Twitter account. We're investigating these issues. We will not be publishing any reviews or columns by Rich until this investigation is complete."
As of now, Richard Roeper has over 224,000 Twitter followers, but there is no indication as to how many of those followers are fake. The report first published by the New York Times listed Richard Roeper as one of Devumi's most prominent media clients, along with conservative pundit Britt McHenry, Fox Business Network journalist Elizabeth McDonald, Breitbart reporter Aaron Klein, radio personality Bobby Bones, "scientist, author and former escort" Brooke Magnanti, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell and New York-based Jacobin Magazine. No specific numbers were given as to how many Twitter followers were purchased by any of the notable names in this report.
This report lists numerous other Twitter accounts who have bought fake followers from Devumi include movie and TV stars such as Sons of Anarchy actor Ryan Hurst, Peaky Blinders star Matthew Postelthwaite, Scandal's Katie Lowes, "Brat Pack" member Andrew McCarthy, Taken star Clive Standen, Lucifer star D.B. Woodside, Baywatch star Gena Lee Nolin, actress/reality star Holly Robinson Peete, John Leguizamo, Jonathan Schaech, Louise Linton, Nicky Whelan, Sainty Nelson and Vanessa Marcil. Among the notable athletes who have used Devumi's services include former NFL star and current analyst Ray Lewis, ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway, Olympic swimmer Adam Peaty, pro baseball player Brandon Phillips, Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell and NHL player Erik Johnson. Other notable clients include former model Kathy Ireland, Dell founder Michael Dell and Shark Tank judge Lori Greiner and singer Clay Aiken. While this scandal won't likely be as tumultuous as the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, it could bring some sweeping changes to Twitter and other social media platforms.
This report also comes just a few months after Guardians of the Galaxy 2 star Chris Pratt warned his followers about a social media imposter, who was pretending to be the actor on Facebook and other social media sites, trying to procure the phone numbers of female fans. While this is obviously much different than celebrities buying fake followers, this report from The New York Times shows how this company is creating fake accounts based on real people to sell to their clients, with an estimated 55,000 of Devumi's 3.5 million automated accounts using names, profile pictures, hometowns and other details of real Twitter users. Richard Roeper has written for the Chicago Sun-Times in various capacities since 1982, and he replaced influential film critic Gene Siskel on At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert from 2000 to 2008, after Siskel's death.