Click farms help fake your online popularity

Employee using click farm.

A click here, a share there. The connected life causes many people and businesses to “fight” daily to gather the largest number of possible likes in their social networking profiles. And  when that strategy is adopted in a paid way, hiring a click farm to reach a certain goal, all sounds a bit bizarre, but wouldn’t you take advantage of one if the price was right?! The truth is that this kind of practice has become increasingly common throughout the world. The so-called “like farms” work just as large-scale productions.

A lot of smartphones are connected to the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and generating clicks, likes and random shares in the profiles and profiles of the companies and contractors that hire them. But another type of fraud is possible with this method. These click generating systems try to fool the advertising systems that charge per click. The more a banner receives clicks, the larger it will be the money they pay out. Thus the price that the advertiser should pay for it but advertisers pay to advertise to people. To prospects that could buy their products. Not to fake profiles that will never have an interest on that product.

According to a video released by the Thai news agency, a few Chines individuals were arrested in Thailand for setting up a “farm” like that. The video shows part of the action of the local policing responsible for the imprisonment of three Chinese. About 500 cell phones that worked to boost clicks were found on the spot. According to the Bangkok Post, the phones were used to falsely increase the views of a product on a sales site. Although the practice is apolitical, it is not considered illegal in Thailand. The three people were arrested because of problems with work visas. Experts believe that the likes of farms operate mainly in China and Russia. The illegality of this is not Rule all over the world. For this reason, the fact has gained notoriety.

The impact of fake profiles

In one year, potentially false Facebook accounts fell from 2% to 1% of the total, according to the company’s balance sheet. They were 31.8 million in the previous year and 18.6 million in the last year – a result of a significant effort by the company. The number adds “unwanted” accounts, profiles created for “purposes that violate the terms of service,” and “misclassified”, such as personal profiles created for legal entities, organizations, pets, among others.

Employee using click farm.

Despite this reduction, click farms, which sell engagement on social networks with accounts of dubious origin, are firm and strong in Asia, hiring labor from the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China and other countries.

They are paid people to “like” posts and follow pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with their own accounts or with profiles created only for the clandestine commerce of popularity in the network. Sometimes they rely on robots, which are easier to detect.

For the social network, the practice is disadvantageous. False and dubious accounts click at all kinds of content to avoid suspicion, even on pages that legitimately paid ads to Facebook.

A study points out, however, that it can not be said that advertising on Facebook is inefficient. “False clicking shows peculiar characteristics, including demographic, temporal and social aspects, which can and should be exploited by algorithms.

 

A study concluded in a 2013 survey that the fake and click-to-click robot market on Facebook generated $ 200 million per year. Ad revenue on Facebook in 2016 was $ 27.64 billion. The company does not disclose Instagram numbers, but Credit Suisse estimates revenue of $ 3.2 billion the same year.

Social analysts do not recommend buying engagement in “click farms.” “It’s a very short-lived strategy, and as Facebook scans, you lose followers.

At Boostlikes, 1,000 likes on a Facebook page cost $ 71. Some profiles are from the United States, but cost about three times more than the foreign labor force. The service ensures that they sell real profiles.

As for Buy Cheap Social, 1,000 tanned Facebook shops cost only $ 16. The company claims that people are real and that “tanned people come from users who have decided to enjoy their page because they really love their content.” Among the services that are presumably “click farms” is the Shareyt website, which mobilizes around 25,000 profiles in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, and WeSellLikes.com.

According to a report on Channel 4, a British television channel, some “click farms” workers in Bangladesh earn less than $ 120 a year and work morning, noon and night. Another one of these services is ClickMonkeys. A very suggestive name for this type of  service. They brag that their “off shore click farm can guarantee over 10 million new impressions per month … and mention a customer doubled their traffic and tripled their revenue thanks to us!!”

Cell phones on stand at click farm.

Fraud in Search

The term “click farm” has been used for at least 10 years, when the main purpose of the brands was to appear with good results in Google’s search engines, Yahoo! And Microsoft. One of the methods used in the past decade was mass-clicking on competitors’ ads. That’s because in some ad networks, the advertiser pays a price for each person who clicks on your site.

By clicking serially on the same ad, the competitor’s money is gone, which gave visibility to the remaining brands in that segment (brands that appear when someone searches for “iron” on Google, for example).

On Facebook, there is also the pay-per-click (PPC) model, which leaves advertisers vulnerable to hits coming from click farms. The social network is always perfecting its algorithm to get rid of the problem.

The peak of fake Facebook users was in 2012, with 83 million “suspicious” accounts, according to the company.

Facebook says that brands should target their ads to specific audiences, reaching people interested in their products, and that “tanned” should not be intended as an end in itself, but as a result of a good marketing strategy.

 

How much do followers cost?

Price of 1,000 followers or, on Facebook, tanned on page

TWITTER
in the United States
$ 78

Outside the United States
$ 26

FACEBOOK
$ 71

INSTAGRAM
$ 39

On this 2014 article, the Washington Post had already warned about the risk of click farms and how they were gaining popularity around the world. According to them, these are the modern age sweat shops, with works going all day browsing and clicking and liking content on the internet.