Many celebrities, corporations and even US government agencies have been buying fake Facebook likes, fake Twitter followers and bogus Youtube viewers from ‘click farms’ that are located off shore. There, low paid workers click the thumbs up icon, watch videos or retweet comments to boost social media numbers. Most of the entities stateside are not even aware they are buying a largely fake product.
Facebook launched 10 years ago, and users try to expand their network in social media to make more money and to get more clout professionally. And many social media companies point to these numbers as a way to show their marketing value.
But a recent study by the Associated Press found that there is a growing market in the world for fake clicks and likes in online marketing and social media. Tech companies such as Facebook are struggling to police them, too. Many online records, studies and interviews indicate that many off shore companies are making millions by fooling social media companies.
For as little as .5 of a cent per click, Websites are selling Linkedin connections, Facebook likes, and Youtube views.
The bottom line is that if there is any monetary value to a click, there are going to be companies taking advantage of that.
According to a pair of researchers and bloggers in Italy, fake Twitter followers can bring in over $40 million per year. Fake Facebook likes can bring in over $200 million per year.
That is why many social media firms, who need to ensure that their numbers are credible, are employing large teams whose job it is to chase down brokers of the fake clicks. But every time they shut down one company, another one takes its place.
For example, software engineers used to write computer programs that generated fake clicks, but the social media companies came up with software that is able to screen out most fake clicks. They also began to closely watch user accounts for signs of fake activity.
Recently, Youtube deleted billions of music video views when it was found out that some of the videos had exaggerated views with fake methods. Google, recently going after the travel site industry, also is constantly fighting people who are getting fake clicks on ads.
Facebook also is on the war path against these companies, with as many as 14 million of its 1.2 billion users considered to be fake accounts.
However, much of the activity is hard to police, such as in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where there are dozens of click farms. Workers there are paid to manually click on the social media pages of their clients. As they are done by real people, it’s very hard for social media companies to do anything about it.
Just keep in mind that some of the numbers and stats that you see in social media might not always be what they are cracked up to be.