The Bot Bubble: Click farms and social media currency

Filed Under: Costs

Summary: The question of clicks and likes as a measure of traffic has pervaded the conversation about a site’s value on the internet. But as we all know, a lot of those clicks and likes are simply fakes. Here’s a quote from a New Republic piece about this problem: “From January 2013 to February 2014, a global team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Microsoft’s and AT&T’s research labs, as well as Boston and Northeastern Universities, conducted an experiment designed to determine just how often advertising campaigns resulted in likes from fake profiles. The researchers ran ten Facebook advertising campaigns, and when they analyzed the likes resulting from those campaigns, they found that 1,867 of the 2,767 likes—or about 67 percent—appeared to be illegitimate. After being informed of these suspicions, Facebook corroborated much of the team’s work by erasing 1,730 of the likes. Sympathetic researchers from a study run by the online marketing website Search Engine Journal have suggested that targeted Facebook advertisements can yield suspicious likes at a rate above 50 percent. In the fall of 2014, Professor Emiliano De Cristofaro of the University College of London presented research which found that even a page explicitly labeled as fake gained followers—the vast majority presumably bots.” The brilliant piece by Doug Bock Clark can be found here: The Bot Bubble: Click Farms Have Inflated Social Media Currency,” The New Republic.