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Inside Social Media's Fake Fan Industry

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the propping-up-the-industry dept.

Facebook 63

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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First Fake Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780575)

FFP

first (-1, Offtopic)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | about 2 years ago | (#41780579)

first

Re:first (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780621)

first

It would have been apropos in this instance to post a porn link.

Re:first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781515)

Or Badoink!

The real problem... (5, Insightful)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41780603)

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:The real problem... (1, Offtopic)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41780649)

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:The real problem... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780771)

mod parent down, mod cup size up!

Re:The real problem... (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41780733)

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.

Re:The real problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781471)

you don't even have to go there, we've seen that here on /. in anything related to Apple or Microsoft

__
posting ac due to mod points

Re:The real problem... (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41780825)

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

Sounds about right.

Re:The real problem... (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about 2 years ago | (#41781489)

There are probably plenty of fake dogs [wikipedia.org] as well!

Re:The real problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781543)

I'm interested in your tulips and would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Re:The real problem... (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | about 2 years ago | (#41782087)

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.

Re:The real problem... (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41782211)

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. Whilst it's always good to have more interested subscribers than fewer interested subscribers, I keep trying to explain that the quality of their social networking reach is the most important thing...get it right with 1,000 followers and they'll do a better job on your behalf than 100,000 mostly-fake followers will.

Re:The real problem... (1)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | about 2 years ago | (#41783987)

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. ;)

Let me be the first to say (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41780619)

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.

Re:Let me be the first to say (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780677)

No, next I'm going to tell you it is "you're" not "your."

Re:Let me be the first to say (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41780707)

Send a message and vote for the tooth fairy.

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41784581)

Send a message and vote for the tooth fairy.

Count Dracula is running?

Re:Let me be the first to say (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41780819)

Vote for the tooth fairy! $1 per tooth knocked out! Or follow the suggestion in my sig.

Re:Let me be the first to say (2)

nschubach (922175) | about 2 years ago | (#41781465)

Hmm, US Population (311,591,917) * Number of Teeth(32) = $9,970,941,344

That's only 9 Billion. We need a bit more than that to solve the debt crisis.

Re:Let me be the first to say (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 2 years ago | (#41781533)

Ya, first we would have to agree that it's actually a crisis. To me it looks more like the R's have tried to make it look like a crisis so they could rile up their base and increase their votes, AKA "Fan Count" -- see how I tied this all back in to the article?

Re:Let me be the first to say (2)

Jaktar (975138) | about 2 years ago | (#41781645)

Let's not forget that we can knock out our children's teeth. Once they grow back we can knock them out again. Sure it's double dipping, but every penny counts.

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780851)

No way, man.

The Tooth Fairy is going to fix everything!

Re:Let me be the first to say (4, Funny)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | about 2 years ago | (#41781131)

"A vote for anyone but the tooth fairy and you're just throwing it away"

"I will donate $5 million to charity if Ms. Fairy can prove she's a dentist"

"This election is not about teeth, but the people whose mouths use them!"

I like where this could go. Cracked [cracked.com] had great coverage on Brazil's elections that probably have someone running as the tooth fairy :)

-Matt

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41785947)

I can't figure out how to not write my name in the body of my post, like everyone else. Can anyone help me figure out how to post like a normal person?

-Matt

Re:Let me be the first to say (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41786587)

Normal people don't post on Slashdot.
Just so you're clear on things.

(I think you are looking for the 'sig' function.)

So basically the reason social media (2, Interesting)

future assassin (639396) | about 2 years ago | (#41780643)

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.

Re:So basically the reason social media (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 2 years ago | (#41780739)

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.

Re:So basically the reason social media (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41781273)

As a rationalist, I prefer objective realities over subjective ones.

Re:So basically the reason social media (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780849)

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.

Even Credible Links... (3, Informative)

michael_rendier (2601249) | about 2 years ago | (#41780655)

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

Re:Even Credible Links... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41786065)

Are you...retarded...where the...fuck did...you learn...punctua...tion...

Pot, kettle... (4, Insightful)

bitslinger_42 (598584) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pot, kettle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780727)

There are ads in your intertubes ?

Re:Pot, kettle... (0)

hduff (570443) | about 2 years ago | (#41780735)

You do not use AdBlock?

Re:Pot, kettle... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41780787)

Privoxy.

Re:Pot, kettle... (1)

bitslinger_42 (598584) | about 2 years ago | (#41780939)

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.

Re:Pot, kettle... (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 2 years ago | (#41781141)

Wait until a few months from now, when you find you've got malware from a drive by flash/java vulnerability.

Re:Pot, kettle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781209)

lol windows users

Re:Pot, kettle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781561)

lol OS X users

FTFY

Re:Pot, kettle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781955)

I'm running IE in Wine you insensitive clod!

+1 very interesting article (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780745)

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

Re:+1 very interesting article (-1, Redundant)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41780815)

"if you are interested in similar topic..."

FTFY (+1, funny, incidentally)

What a waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780799)

Please, also pay me money to prove that if I throw you off a building you will fall towards the Earth!

Wrong service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41780823)

Cheapskate got what he paid for.

Well duh. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#41780979)

Clearly he bought on the low end, realistic fakes cost extra.

What inside? (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41781135)

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!

Re:What inside? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781405)

It's more like buying a fake joint, smoking it and then writing an article about how you didn't get high. Then publishing the article on a website that sells fake joints.

LOL Obanga (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781199)

According to StatusPeople, more than 70 percent of President Barack Obama's 19 million Twitter followers were either fake or inactive accounts.

Obanga must be desperate to appear popular.

More to it than that (5, Insightful)

JazzHarper (745403) | about 2 years ago | (#41781317)

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.

Re:More to it than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41781683)

And that they are very strict about their policies and very active in weeding out fake accounts. I know. Facts just get in the way of your rant, right?

Re:More to it than that (1)

lurker1997 (2005954) | about 2 years ago | (#41784219)

Way to provide a well supported counter argument. I there a fancy Latin term for the logical fallacy of refuting an argument by saying "no they don't"?

Re:More to it than that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41785435)

Way to provide a well supported counter argument. I there a fancy Latin term for the logical fallacy of refuting an argument by saying "no they don't"?

Argumentum ad notheydontum

Re:More to it than that (1)

crtreece (59298) | about 2 years ago | (#41789597)

Oh? I wonder why I still have 4 active, and fake, accounts that were created when I was on a Mafiaa Wars kick.

Re:More to it than that (1)

crtreece (59298) | about 2 years ago | (#41789621)

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.

facebook is going for it's cut. 85% apparently (2)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#41781607)

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.

   

Re:facebook is going for it's cut. 85% apparently (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41790091)

Facebook always had a 12% average delivery rate. Now you can simply pay more for more. The post you linked to makes a few good points, but the main point was not one of them.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/29/facebook-post-reach-16-friends/

Real humans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41782157)

I paid for real humans dammit, not this fake rubber shit!

You get what you pay for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41783771)

First off, not all followers are the same. "Followers" are not a comodity like "corn" or "wheat." If you buy on sites like Fiverr, seriously, what do you expect to get for $5? Your'e going to get fake accounts. People are paying to have their follower number increased from 15 to 515. Almost nobody inspects your follower list to evaluate whether your followers are legit or not. Almost everyone who is successful knows there is an element of "Fake it til you make it" and I have at least one friend who became successful and wealthy all from promoting himself and buying followers. Odds are some of you would know his name or his company. If your product is decent/passable and you have a million followers, you're going to seem pretty legit in the eyes of the average joe. So while I don't think buying followers works for most people, it does work.

Separately, you now have sites like klout where your score is partly based upon how many followers you have. Sweet. Now you get perks, free stuff, and job/interview opportunities, all as a result of some wisely invested money.

Re:You get what you pay for (1)

Shag (3737) | about 2 years ago | (#41784391)

I dunno, I can get usless friends/followers with spammy profiles for free on Hi5, Tagged, Netlog or Google+, so I'd say this guy clearly paid too much.

Keep sharing nice stuff (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41783933)

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Whys does this feel ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41788273)

... so much like buying WOW gold?

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