SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 6, 2014

Selling social media clicks is turning into big business

(Continued)

YouTube wiped out billions of music industry video views last December after auditors found some videos apparently had exaggerated numbers of views. Its parent-company, Google, is also constantly battling people who generate fake clicks on their ads.

And Facebook, whose most recent quarterly report estimated as many as 14.1 million of its 1.18 billion active users are fraudulent accounts, does frequent purges. That’s particularly important for a company that was built on the principle that users are real people.

Twitter’s Jim Prosser said there’s no upside. “In the end, their accounts are suspended, they’re out the money and they lose the followers,” he said.

LinkedIn spokesman Doug Madey said buying connections “dilutes the member experience,” violates their user agreement and can also prompt account closures.

Google and YouTube “take action against bad actors that seek to game our systems,” said spokeswoman Andrea Faville.

Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city of 7 million in South Asia, is an international hub for click farms.

The CEO of Dhaka-based social media promotion firm Unique IT World said he has paid workers to manually click on clients’ social media pages, making it harder for Facebook, Google and others to catch them. “Those accounts are not fake, they were genuine,” Shaiful Islam said.

A recent check on Facebook showed Dhaka was the most popular city for many, including soccer star Leo Messi, who has 51 million likes; Facebook’s own security page, which has 7.7 million likes; and Google’s Facebook page, which has 15.2 million likes.

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