Real or fake: Decoding the fake followers industry

9 months ago 44
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A number of scams have been exposed in the recent times. The latest debate to surface the internet has been about buying fake followers or viewers on social media and content hosting platforms. We spoke to BeYouNick, Ted The Stoner, BeerBiceps, Madan Gowri and Abhi and Niyu, who have been in the industry for about a decade to know more about this business and how it came into the forefront.  

BeYouNick

Does the industry exist: Absolutely, just like there’s people who like to flaunt a fake Rolex, there’s also people who want to flaunt their social media ‘presence’.

How does it work: I don’t know the technicalities, but there’s basically fake profiles and bot farms that artificially create profiles and then show engagement from those profiles in form of follows, views, likes, etc.

Is it the corporate influence: I wouldn’t call it corporate interference, but rather lack of awareness of what social media really is and how it works. A lot of brands assumed that their followers, views or likes are the only relevant measures for their ‘digital personality’. 

Ted The Stoner

Does the industry exist: Yes, it does exist. There is no point in sugar coating something that is so obvious to everyone’s eye.

How does it work: I haven’t really gone into the details since this is something that I never wanted to explore. This started because of three reasons — insecurity, jealousy and unfair competitive advantage.

Is it the corporate influence: There can never be one general reason over the phenomenon of buying fake followers and views, but yes, this can be one reason behind it since greater the numbers, greater the money. The math is pretty simple. 

BeerBiceps

Does the industry exist: Yes, I think the practice of buying fake followers is fairly active in the industry, there are definitely people who invest in it.

How does it work: There are a lot of companies and agencies that specialise in providing fake followers or bots. They usually reach out to you on Instagram or YouTube with their packages. It’s been three to four years, at least.

Is it the corporate influence: This could be a possibility. I’ve heard a lot of brands have their agencies invest in certain kinds of bots and followers just to showcase that they are doing better in numbers as opposed to their competitors. 

Madan Gowri

Does the industry exist: Yes, it does exist, but I’ve never experienced it first-hand.

How does it work: The logical explanation seems to be bots. It started when the views on a video or like on a post started determining the success of a person. Brands started taking this as a measure of reach for their brand if they collaborate.

Is it the corporate influence: Yes, it is possible that it is directly proportional to the corporate money floating around on the internet.

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Hey guys, Niyu here. Usually its Abhi who writes beautiful parts of our story, but today, I wanted to step in. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary on 6th May. Typical of our lives these days, we spent it completely involved in work. But good work makes Abhi happy. And when Abhi is happy, I am happy. A lot has been said about happiness because of the lockdown and as a bit of a quiet romantic, I want to chip in my 2 cents. Happiness for me is Abhi. It is the life we've sort of grown in together. When we were leaving for our honeymoon together, it was the first time Abhi was traveling to Europe and as I took him around everywhere, his wonder and happiness made me feel happy. Whether it was us exploring, or simply spending time watching crystal clear water, our honeymoon was just how it is supposed to be, dreamy. We explored new places and found a small corner together. A corner of shared memories. And as time passed, we kept creating more shared memories together. Finding new projects together, launching the 100 reasons series and actually traveling across India and making memories. And we create shared memories these days too. We snuggle, beat each other at Ludo and watch TV series together. It is more time for us to just give in to each other. More time to comfort each other, and more time to simply be content with each other. These days, we tend to place happiness on a huge pedestal. We put a 100 steps to achieve it, make plans, and generally just try to push it as far away from us as possible. But, I think happiness is as simple as a small smile. Or a laugh. As I think back on our honeymoon, the small things stand out. The small memories. Taking the wrong route, sneaking a kiss somewhere, recording ridiculous boomerangs, Abhi pushing my eclair on my nose. Us screaming on a roller coaster in Vienna. When there is no pressure of expectations, everything flows so much better. Making Abhi smile made me feel so happy inside 2 years ago. And it still does today. Perhaps that is the key to a "happy" marriage. When your partner and his smile means the most in the world. I love you, Abhi! (swipe for some really nice photos from our honeymoon)

A post shared by Abhi&Niyu | Following Love 🇮🇳 (@abhiandniyu) on May 8, 2020 at 11:33am PDT

Abhi and Niyu

Does the industry exist: Of course, it exists. As long as we are going to care about a high number as a prestige point, it is going to exist.

How does it work: A lot of times new users are tempted to ‘buy’ followers from bot farms. Usually, these are fake accounts from different countries that get an incentive for following you.

Is it the corporate influence: The number of people following you is directly proportional to how much money you make. From our experience, your engagement rate and your connection with your audience appeal to some brands, and they are drawn to work with you based on that and not on a high number.

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