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Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the propping-up-the-industry dept.
jfruh writes "It's an open secret that many high-profile users of social media networks pay to pad their fan counts. But what you do you get for your money? One blogger decided to shell out some cash to find out. Instead of the real human fans he was promised, he found himself followed by a motley collection of obvious fakes created by non-English speakers and accounts that seem to mainly exist to spam porn links."
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Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry

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  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:52PM (#41780603) Journal
    Big deal, there's fake people on the internet.

    The actual problem here is the value that is placed on having a high number of followers, likes or whatever. Back in the MySpace days this was simply a bunch of teenagers who wanted to claim some vague kudos through having more "friends" than others, but these days the marketing industry has latched on to it and people/companies are placing a real financial value on it. This is a problem - it's a bubble in the making, and when it pops there are going to be some pretty bitter recriminations and a lot of money lost.

    So if you want to collect lots of followers, fine, it's up to you. But if you believe there's any financial value in it then I've got some tulips you may be interested in purchasing as an investment...
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)

      Big deal, there's fake people on the internet.

      I know, we should be examining the real problem of fake tits on women. Sure a slim, curvy girl with big knockers is nice; but we all know a B-cup barbie doesn't need double-Ds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        mod parent down, mod cup size up!

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:04PM (#41780733) Journal

      Actually, there was a bit more involved there.

      In the early MySpace/gaming days, many of the social games gave you big advantages for having more friends than your opponents. Even now, games like Farmville are geared towards having a huge amount of friends to 'gift' you digital trinkets and perform menial digital tasks.

      Also, the 'fake friends' and 'fake followers' used to be used for fake click-throughs, to up the amount of money ad advertiser would pay you for hosting an ad banner.

      Nowadays, you get what you pay for. TFA's author likely paid on the low-end. If he wanted what folks like Microsoft get (see any CNET article comment section concerning Microsoft if you want examples), you gotta be prepared to open the checkbook [waggeneredstrom.com]...

      When you stack the ducats high, you get top-end fake comments/reviews/whatever.

    • by gman003 (1693318) on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:12PM (#41780825)

      So marketers are about as intelligent as a Myspace-using teenager.

      Sounds about right.

    • There are probably plenty of fake dogs [wikipedia.org] as well!
    • by Sun.Jedi (1280674)

      people/companies are placing a real financial value on it.

      I agree with OP... but I don't think it takes very many firing synapses to realize placing value on what is so easily spoofed and inflated is not going to turn out well. The value is based on greed.

      This is a problem - it's a bubble in the making, and when it pops there are going to be some pretty bitter recriminations and a lot of money lost.

      The dumber marketers are going to lose money. Good.

      • The value is based on greed.

        I disagree, I think it's based on vanity. Greed is when you do something for money or equivalent, but the payoff on having high numbers of friends etc is very difficult to quantify. This is a case of people being asked to justify their department budget, and big numbers will always impress people who need to impress other people by using big numbers.

        My main client is always pushing for higher numbers on mailing lists etc and forwarding me "Get loads of new leads!" spam.

        • by Sun.Jedi (1280674)
          The "bigger, better, more, more, more" mentality is a means to an end. That end being profits, no? I do understand your point and agree machismo/vanity plays a big role. I also agree that quality > quantity. Where we differ is that the status of numbers (likes, subscribers, etc) doesn't really explain the end game. Vinny doesn't drive a blinged out '72 Camaro because he is vain, he does it to get laid. ;)
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:54PM (#41780619) Homepage

    That I am shocked, yes, shocked at this despicable behavior. Next your going to tell me that it doesn't make any difference if I vote for Obama, Romney or the tooth fairy.

  • by future assassin (639396) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:56PM (#41780643) Homepage

    is even popular is because every one can now become a celebrity in their own little delusional world. Lucky for me I don't get social media, I'd rather stay obscure as BeOS.

    • is even popular is because every one can now become a celebrity in their own little delusional world. Lucky for me I don't get social media, I'd rather stay obscure as BeOS.

      If this keeps future politicians locked up, I'm all for it. Let them live in their own little delusional worlds and leave us alone. Who knows, in the future, we might even be able to visit various fictional worlds and settle in the one that works best for us.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      is even popular is because every one can now become a celebrity in their own little delusional world. Lucky for me I don't get social media, I'd rather stay obscure as BeOS.

      After a post that adds as much (read: little) as THAT did to the conversation, with an actual username attached to it, I would seriously reconsider going around with that sort of "hipster-ier than thou" attitude.

  • by michael_rendier (2601249) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:57PM (#41780655) Homepage
    Facebook's sponsored links are no better these days...wrapping you around multiple malware sites for the illusion of free tickets to Dark Knight Rises...takes less than two clicks to find either boobs or 'three of these offers must be completed plus five subsequent offers but never'... Imagine that...people believing everything they read on the internet... Or how i purchased a Hulu account with some thought that it would reduce the number of commercials...which actually increased (i apparently only purchased the ability to watch on my PS3????) Telling people that others will like them if they pay money...SMH
  • Pot, kettle... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bitslinger_42 (598584) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:57PM (#41780661)

    I'm bemused that the story about people padding their fan list is broken up into four separate screen pages, with only 5 paragraphs on the first page (I didn't bother to go any further), but the story itself was prefaced with an ad, had 8 full-fledged ad blocks on the main page, plus many more blocks with links to other stories and the various "Like me on X" buttons.

    • by hduff (570443)

      You do not use AdBlock?

      • Privoxy.
      • I do, so I only saw perhaps 3 of the on-page blocks the first time through, which pissed me off enough that I closed the page. I then decided to vent on /., so I opened the page in IE, which showed the ads in all their full, unadulterated glory, thus allowing the full count.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:06PM (#41780745)

    +1 very nice and informative article. if you are interested in a similar topic, please be checking my blog here...

  • Clearly he bought on the low end, realistic fakes cost extra.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:41PM (#41781135) Journal

    He bought some fake accounts and quoted another article. That is like me buying a joint and quoting someone I read about on the internet and calling it an inside look at the world of drugs.

    You can buy fake accounts... that is the article and those fake accounts?!? They ain't real!!!

    If this article amazes you with its starting information and deep insights... actually, considering mainstream news these days, it is pretty damn deep. Mind you compared with main stream media, the lakes on mars are deep too. AND I KNOW THERE IS NO WATER ON MARS and please don't quote that with a picture of the mars rover and call it an amazing insight into the geography of mars.

    Next week: Gold sellers are active in MMO's. After the commercial: Cheaters cheat in games!

  • by JazzHarper (745403) on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:02PM (#41781317) Journal

    On Facebook, high profile users not only pay to get more followers, but once they do, they must pay again to actually communicate with them. Unless you pay, FB only lets postings go to a few hundred followers. If you want more people to see your post, you have to pay a fee to "promote" your post. If you have 1 million followers, it can cost close to $1k per posting.

    During the dotcom bubble, companies were ridiculed for business plans that were based entirely on "selling eyeballs". FB has taken the same business concept to next level. I'd like to see an independent audit of Facebook's DAU metric and their 1 billion MAU claim. The company asserts that only about 8% of user profiles are fake and no analysts challenge that statistic. Clearly, it is not in Facebook's interest to weed out fake accounts; on the contrary, their revenue depends on them.

    • by crtreece (59298)
      Ancecdotal, for sure, but I have multiple facebook accounts that were created specifically for supporting my main Mafiaa Wars account. They have associated gmail addresses that I monitor, and they still get FB updates, 2 years after I stopped logging into the FB account.

      I could only laugh when they announced 1 billion users, knowing I was 5 of them. I'm sure there are people with more time to scheme on this than I had then, which only makes me laugh again.

  • You might have noticed Facebooks promote button recently.

    http://dangerousminds.net/comments/facebook_i_want_my_friends_back [dangerousminds.net] explains it better than I can

    Now when you post something on your wall facebook will only notify 15% of your friends of your post unless you choose to promote it and they want serious money to do so.

    As an experiment i posted a link to the dangerous minds story and asked my friends to comment if they saw that post. well that was around 10 hours ago and so far only 1 friend bothered to comment and they posted the link to me in the first place!

    You can try your own experiments and see if you can find the reach of your posts. For companies who have built a following on facebook this quite disastrous but if your using facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, good luck with that because facebook isn't letting you do that anymore either if my experiment is anything to go by.

       

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