Monday, January 06, 2014

Click Farms - diluting social media

The Associated Press did an investigative report on all those Facebook Likes and it turns out (I am Shocked! Shocked I tell you!) that they are not all genuine.

The Boston Globe has a nice version of the story. It does not seem to have run in many papers - I found lots of little "Five things to Know About Click Farms" but this is an in-depth story about the pervasive problem and how it undermines the value of Google Plus and Facebook Likes, Retweets and other methods that social medias have developed for users to how how much play either they, individually, or a particular bon mot are getting. And the story is interesting, not just to see what the various players are doing in the weapons race on each side to outwit each other, but to discover WHO is using click farms.

For instance, would you be interested to know that the U.S. Department of State dropped $630,000 in 2013 to boost its Facebook numbers? It stopped after an inspector general (thank you, thank you!) criticized this use of tax dollars. I mean, who are they competing against?!! It's not as though I can choose a different country's state department! Or maybe choose a different government agency to represent me to the world? Sheesh! Should we lay this at John Kerry's door or is this some individual agency wonk run amok? The result was that the U.S. Dept. of State was a fave in Cairo.*
Ta Da.

*(click on the LIKES and it will take you to a page that will analyze the numbers behind it. This week, for instance, the numbers dropped from a recent high Dec, 5 - 11. But the most people who "like" the DOS are in Washington, DC which seems more believable, unless there is a click farm there, too). The image is the Facebook page this day for Dept of State, showing the Likes.

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