- Insider found hundreds of Twitter profiles of people claiming to be Temu ambassadors.
- Coupon codes for shopping discounts at Temu were being shared on these profiles.
- Experts say these accounts are likely created by individuals or organizations who want to exploit coupon codes to earn commission.
The format of these profiles is almost identical. A display name – that includes a nickname or a seemingly real name – alongside a couple of emoticons, and the words: “Temu Ambassador, “Ambassador of Temu,” or “Campus Ambassador of Temu.” This title appears to refer to Temu’s rewards program where shoppers can enroll as an ambassador and earn cash by sharing referral links to other consumers.
Insider searched through dozens of these accounts. And found that each one had joined Twitter between the months of December 2022 and April 2023, and had between 0 to 100 followers.
Insider ran 15 of these Twitter handles through Botometer – an online tool that checks the activity of a Twitter account and generates a score that suggests how likely it is to be a bot.
The scale runs from zero to five, with zero being the most human-like and five being the most bot-like. Scores for these accounts ranged from 1.6 to 3.4.
Botometer identified at least one “fake follower” on each account. These are bots that are purchased to increase follower counts, a tactic that’s often used to make an account look more credible.
“If these are fake accounts then they are high quality because they are virtually indistinguishable from real accounts,” Dan Woods, global head of intelligence at security firm F5, told Insider.
All of the profiles we checked shared a link to a $20 coupon to be used on Temu’s site. When Insider tried to redeem this coupon an alert appeared that said: “Sorry. You can’t continue this activity currently.”
Temu did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Relentless online marketing drives Temu’s success
Temu, which only launched in the US in September, has grown rapidly in a relatively short period of time. Its app has sped to the top of the download charts on both Apple and Google Play, and the number of monthly active users on its app in the US has grown from zero to 29.1 million in just over eight months — per data from digital intelligence company Sensor Tower, which was shared with Insider.
Experts say its success has been fueled by its savvy, and often relentless, online marketing campaigns that promote its constant deals, discounts, and free coupons. These coupons are often pedaled out by its ambassadors.
Woods said that these fake-looking Twitter accounts are most likely created by an individual or organization who wants to exploit Temu’s coupon codes by getting as many people to sign up for them in order to earn commission.
“Coupon code abuse is a common problem among e-commerce companies,” Woods said.
Ben T. Smith IV, who heads up communications, media, and technology at management consultancy firm Kearney, described this as “classic Twitter spam,” in an email to Insider.
“It happens all the time and while Twitter is trying to address it … they have work to do,” he said,
Its a topic Elon Musk has been hot on, and his concerns about the prevalence of bots on Twitter almost derailed his plans to buy the company.