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Why were these weird accounts following a bunch of people on Spotify?

Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

Somebody sent a strange tip about Spotify to The Verge on Wednesday.

The email, with the subject line “Spotify Hackers,” claimed that “Every English account in America has two new followers, ! lucasrpx and ! vitornovaes.” The tipster followed up two minutes later to share a screenshot showing the profile pictures from the accounts, which featured characters from the Studio Ghibli movie Ponyo. Weird stuff.

This seemed pretty innocuous — we doubted they were hackers — but we had to investigate. It was easy to disprove that the accounts followed “every English account in America”; the accounts were not following me. (Though full disclosure that I’ve been an Apple Music user for years.) But the accounts did follow two other Verge staffers,…

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