How The Birth of Fake Like Factories For Social Media Is Destroying The Internet (Research Included)

Going back to the days of 90s, the world had high hopes from the internet. With invention still in process, experts had their predictions regarding how this medium of communication will bring peace to the world, make people aware of what’s right or wrong and even solve bigger problems that people had to face at that time.

Fortunately enough, internet did introduce us to endless possibilities but with that, humans were also naive about vulnerabilities that are now posing greater threat to the world.

To shed more light onto what we mean, we are going to go into the details, based on this research, of what’s happening inside the Fake Like Factories (which supposedly are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube etc.) to see how these companies continue to make us fool in the name of business which we expect to get from the similar platforms.

The Power of Like Button

In today’s era, where Gen Z and Millennials cover up as a significant majority of potential customers for any brand, the “Like” button stands as an indicator of popularity and economic growth. Hence, going by its importance, many organizations then tend to go for even paid likes or misinformation because in the end they want to show their business booming well.
How The Birth of Fake Like Factories For Social Media Is Destroying The Internet (Research Included)
This leads us to the factories that play their role by helping out with paid advertisements.

The Workers Inside The Factories

It’s no hidden fact that one can buy fake likes or comments. In fact the icing on the cake is how everyone these days know how to do so with the process being so simple. You can buy them from the country right of your choice and as per your budget.

However, as you might be thinking that the fake likes come from a room that is filled with multiple machines having accounts logged onto them and being operated by one person who takes care of each campaign, then you are wrong.

Most of the likes that you earn through putting out a campaign are from real people that work for agencies. They register on 3rd party platforms like PaidLikes with real accounts and then get paid from 2 cents to 6 per like. Such users only have to work their way through the campaigns that come to the dashboard in listed form, making the process simpler for you and them as well.


Why do people do such a job? Only to earn extra money because all the 30,000 registered PaidLikes workers earn in between the range of 15 Euros to 450 Euros monthly. Almost all of them also do clicking for more than 2 platforms to earn a handsome amount.

The Ones Who Get The Benefit

Small fan pages that have 10-15,000 followers and politicians who wanted to improve their social media presence were the ones that dominated the list of 90,000 Facebook campaigns. While none of them accepted buying likes for self promotion there was one local politician who spilled the truth with an interesting question.

TanJa Kuhne FDP asked “if one buys likes, would you say that it’s a fraud? The answer for that is a bit complicated. But, it's indeed a mean of having a social proof and communication. So the topic of media literacy is needed here.

The Big Picture

Although the concept of likes-farm date back to 2012. But as soon as Facebook got to know about it, they took down the 3rd party likes providers such as PaidLikes itself. The company has also been pretty straight forward about how they remove billions of fake accounts every year and makes sure that no one can play the gamble of such sort. But that according to statistics is just all lies.

In a more recent example NATO-Stratcom Task Force bought 54,000 social media interactions for 300 Euros which included 3530 comments, 25,750 likes, 20,000 views and 5,100 followers.

While this raised the doubt over claims of Facebook, let’s look at the graph of the age of fake Facebook accounts that was developed by Philip Kriebel, Internet Activist Against Disinformation and Dennis Tatang PhD Student at Ruhr-University Bochum, Chair for System Security to dive deep into the issue. As per them you can see PaidLikes still used comparatively old accounts which were created back in 2012.



To reconfirm the statistics the team had found out previous, they again analyzed a page on Facebook that had the name of “Garden Furniture” with million likes and thousands of post likes. As this was pretty unusual for such a business, they spotted fake accounts which had their connections to South Asia.

Moving onto the bigger picture, there are possibly 40 billion Facebook IDs to date that the team figured out with their research and to further know whether such accounts actually exist, they performed sample checks on 1 million accounts over the time period of 1 year with the help of crawler that bypassed the IP-block with Tor anonymity network.

More surprising results of scrapping the Facebook IDs showed that 1 in 4 IDs poses a valid account and doing more math means that there are approximately 10 billion registered users on Facebook, which is far more than the population of humans on Earth. Furthermore, it is also naive to assume that every human has a Facebook account, considering how many are suffering with poverty and can’t even imagine to own a phone, however we do know that Facebook boasts around 2.5 billion monthly active users.

From the similar research, the team also observed that 2 billion new Facebook accounts were registered in between the time period of October 2018 to December 2019, while Facebook deleted around 150 Million older accounts in the same frame of time (while claiming to delete billions in front of public).

As Facebook promises of a strict policy against fake accounts, the problem resides in the fact that if an account survives on Facebook for a longer period of time, then it is highly unlikely that it gets deleted by Facebook and gets counted as registered account.

What All of This Matters?

When we talk about broken metrics or the confusion regarding profiles being real or unreal, it leads Facebook to do manipulation and eventually economic losses to someone who has expectations from Facebook. Your money in majority of cases goes in vain and hence trusting Facebook with the numbers they give you will only make you a fool.

Solution

While according to the understanding, as click-workers and fake profiles are creating all the problems, it’s about time that these social media companies should start making interactions scarce for hyperactive users and for inauthentic profiles, there must be a better system of authenticity to make sure that the likes, comments or interaction of any sort isn’t getting done by the bots or one person operating multiple profiles.

Last but not the least, you as a user also own the responsibility of becoming more aware with systems in the background of Facebook likes and spread the word by sharing this research.



Read next: Just a friendly reminder - You are still being tracked by Facebook even with the location turned off

No comments:

Post a Comment