August 03, 2013

Facebook Is Riddled With Click Farms Where Workers Sit In Dingy Rooms in Bangladesh, Bars On The Windows, Generating 1,000 Likes For $1

How much do you like courgettes, the green vegetable Americans call zucchini? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the "like" button – even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.
There's just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand "likes" at his "click farm". Workers punching the keys might be on a three-shift system, and be paid as little as $120 a year.
The ease with which a humble vegetable could win approval calls into question the basis on which many modern companies measure success online – through Facebook likes, YouTube video views and Twitter followers.
Channel 4's Dispatches programme will on Monday reveal the extent to which click farms risk eroding user confidence in what had looked like an objective measure of social online approval.
The disclosures could hurt Facebook as it tries to persuade firms away from advertising on Google and to use its own targeted advertising, and to chase likes as a measure of approval.
That particular Facebook page on courgettes was set up by the programme makers to demonstrate how click farms can give web properties spurious popularity.
"There's a real desire amongst many companies to boost their profile on social media, and find other customers as well as a result," said Graham Cluley, an independent security consultant.
The importance of likes is considerable with consumers: 31% will check ratings and reviews, including likes and Twitter followers, before they choose to buy something, research suggests. That means click farms could play a significant role in potentially misleading consumers.
Dispatches found one boss in Bangladesh who boasted of being "king of Facebook" for his ability to create accounts and then use them to create hundreds or thousands of fake likes.
Click farms have become a growing challenge for companies which rely on social media measurements – meant to indicate approval by real users – to estimate the popularity of their products.
For the workers, though, it is miserable work, sitting at screens in dingy rooms facing a blank wall, with windows covered by bars, and sometimes working through the night. For that, they could have to generate 1,000 likes or follow 1,000 people on Twitter to earn a single US dollar.
Sam DeSilva, a lawyer specializing in IT and outsourcing law at Manches LLP in Oxford, says of the fake clicks: "Potentially, a number of laws are being breached – the consumer protection and unfair trading regulations. Effectively it's misleading the individual consumers."
Dispatches discovered an online casino which had sub licensed the Monopoly brand from its owner, the games company Hasbro, and to which fake likes had been added on its Facebook page.
When contacted, Hasbro contacted Facebook and the page was taken down. In a statement, Hasbro said it was "appalled to hear of what had occurred" and was unaware of the page.
Dhaka-registered, meanwhile, claims to act as a middleman to connect companies seeking to boost their profile on Facebook, Twitter, Google +1, LinkedIn and YouTube.
"We made it as simple as mouse-clicking," the front page of the site says, claiming that it is "a crowd-sourcing platform to help you improve social media presence and search engine ranking FREE".
It adds: "Whenever and wherever you need massive workforce to complete petty tasks, call for Shareyt and get it done like magic! You can't imagine the potentials [sic] until you explore!" It claims to have generated 1.4m Facebook likes and to have 83,000 registered users.
The implication is that the site "crowdsources" clicks – that lots of people around the world mutually help each other to promote each others' work.
But Sharaf al-Nomani, Shareyt's owner, told Dispatches in an undercover meeting that "around 30% or 40% of the clicks will come from Bangladesh" – which implies about 25,000 people in Dhaka using computers laboriously and repetitively for hours on end to boost the visibility of specific products to order.
Some companies have used in the course of standard marketing.
Sir Billi, a British cartoon film voiced by Sir Sean Connery, has more than 65,000 Facebook likes – more than some Hollywood films.
Although it has so far only been released in South Korea, Facebook data suggests the city of Dhaka is the source of the third-largest number of likes. (The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is presently the source of the highest number.)
Tessa Hartmann of Billi Productions, which made the film, said they had been promoting it since 2006, and paid £271.40 to advertise it on in August 2012 for six months as a "very small" part of their marketing campaign. At the time, she says, it already had 40,000 Facebook likes. Her company stopped using the site in February.
A link also appeared on to Coca-Cola's 2010 Super Bowl advertisement "Hard Times", showing the Simpsons' Mr Burns learning to get by on less (but with Coke).
The video's presence on the site is likely to have helped its nearly 6m views. Coke said in a statement that it "did not approve of fake fans"; the video was made private soon afterwards. has now seen Facebook and Twitter prevent links to the site being posted on their networks. Twitter bans "fake followers" or the buying of followers.
Faked internet use has been a bugbear of the burgeoning advertising industry ever since the web went commercial in the mid-1990s and the first banner ad was rolled out in 1996.
The rise of advertising networks and "pay-per-click" advertising – where an advertiser pays the network when someone clicks on an advert, whether or not it leads to a sale – also saw a rise in faked clicks which benefited unscrupulous networks.
And it is still a problem. In February, Microsoft and Symantec shut down a "botnet" of up to 1.8m PCs that were being used to create an average of 3m clicks per day, raking in $1m per year since 2009.
But click farms exploit a different sort of computing power altogether: the rise of cheap labour paired with low-cost connectivity to the internet.
"Russell", the manager of the click farm identified by Dispatches, said some of the methods he used were legitimate; he blamed those who commissioned the work if it was seen as immoral.


  1. Zuckerberg is such a SHYLOCK, this is hardly unexpected from a CIA funded "company"

  2. ... but, but, but Goldman Sachs said the companies IPO valuation was based on current subscriber numbers? You cannot possibly make me believe that Face Book and Goldman Sachs would intentionally deceive investors by creating hundreds of millions of fake accounts? I mean, they would only stand to get insanely rich from doing it and we all know that in the United States only the most morally-centered people get wealthy and no one ever stretches the truth here. Capitalism is as infallible as the Pope which is why we don't need pesky laws and regulations!

    Thank You Jesus for making a perfect system that benefits everyone equally!

  3. Yes, about that "sacrosanct" capitalism. Is it EVER mentioned in the Constitution? Did the Founding Fathers believe in USURY? The Constitution protects PROPERTY, but I can't seem to find CAPITALISM in there.

  4. According to the high school documentary by Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs that I watched in math class 20 years ago "capitalism" is a market philosophy created by Jesus Christ and Christians are the reason they make so much money!

    By choosing not to go after the money they leave plenty of wealth for Goldman Sachs and there investors to mop up. The example used was a waitress who due to being Christian chose to live a life of poverty because she knows in her heart investment bankers deserve more money than her and she doesn't deserve anything.

  5. Christianity, unfortunately, is a religion for slaves and the downtrodden, and I suppose those that want to be. Awaiting their reward in Heaven.

  6. I find it odd that a "Creator" would send his spirit in the form of a man to embody what was a symbol of solar worship; the annual crossing of the Sun from Summer to Winter solstices. Unless "God" is in fact the Sun itself; an intelligent being.

  7. God is the "universal consciousness" google "Christ in India" The 7 seals of Revelations are really the 7 chakras. The 3 wise men brought gifts - gold/frankencense/myhr -- to be used for travel/tuition ---- they did not just stop for coffee, they passed their knowledge to his parents. ---- then investigate Jews/ATEN and those ties.

    One big religion, many variations.

  8. The clusterf*ck that is the world economy now isn't just mere capitalism - it should be more correctly called CORPORATISM, because unless you are a multi-billion dollar multi-national corporation, you have no say in the matter.

  9. George Cox in his "Aryan Mythology" has thoroughly examined this subject of cross-cultural mythology that follows the Aryans wherever they go and changed slightly over the years becoming many variations over time of essentially the same myth.

    He and Max Muller prove it with the story of the master thief which they find embodied in Hindu and all they way down to Robin Hood. They prove it by etymology to all be the same tale.

  10. clearly the Founders intended or why would all the major media networks keep telling us to apply monetary socialism to the wealthy and poverty for everyone else?