It's A Click Farm World: 1 Million Followers Cost $600 And The State Department Buys 2 Million Facebook Likes

Tyler Durden's picture

Recently, Facebook got into hot water with investors when it was revealed that as many of its 1.18 billion active users 14.1 million (and likely orders of magnitude more) were fraudulent. Things are even worse at Twitter, where Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli found that of the social network's 232 million monthly active users about 20 million are fake and for sale, while Jason Ding of Barracuda Labs said 10% of more of all Twitter accounts are fake.

Welcome to the world of click farms, where nothing is what it seems, and where social networking participants spend millions of dollars to appear more important, followed, prestigious, cool, or generally "liked" than they really are.

Social networking has been the "it" thing for a while: for the networks it makes perfect sense because they are merely the aggregators and distributors of terrabytes of free, third party created content affording them multi-billion dollar valuations without generating a cent in profits (just think of the upside potential in having 10 times the world's population on any given publicly-traded network), while for users it provides the opportunity to be seen, to be evaluated or "liked" on one's objective, impartial merits and to maybe go "viral", potentially making money in the process. Of course, the biggest draws of social networks also quickly became their biggest weaknesses, and it didn't take long to game the weakest link: that apparent popularity based on the size of one's following or the number of likes, which usually translates into power and/or money, is artificial and can be purchased for a price.

But it is not only sport stars with chips on their shoulder, or fading move and music gods who are willing to dish out in order to get the fake adoration and fake fans: as the AP reports, In 2013, the State Department, which has more than 400,000 likes and was recently most popular in Cairo, said it would stop buying Facebook fans after its inspector general criticized the agency for spending $630,000 to boost the numbers. In one case, its fan tally rose to more than 2.5 million from about 10,000.

Various other, more expected account "paddings" come from a recent check on Facebook showed Dhaka was the most popular city for many, including soccer star Lionel 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.

Again: no surprise. AP summarizes it as follows: "Since Facebook launched almost 10 years ago, users have sought to expand their social networks for financial gain, winning friends, bragging rights and professional clout. And social media companies cite the levels of engagement to tout their value."

Sadly, for increasingly more participants, it is all a game of illusions. An Associated Press examination has found a growing global marketplace for fake clicks, which tech companies struggle to police. "Online records, industry studies and interviews show companies are capitalizing on the opportunity to make millions of dollars by duping social media. For as little as a half cent each click, websites hawk everything from LinkedIn connections to make members appear more employable to Soundcloud plays to influence record label interest. "Anytime there's a monetary value added to clicks, there's going to be people going to the dark side," said Mitul Gandhi, CEO of seoClarity, a Des Plaines, Ill., social media marketing firm that weeds out phony online engagements."

What is the source of this social networking fakery? One place is Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city of 7 million in South Asia, and 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.

What is worse, the cost of fake fame is so low, virtually everyone does it:

BuyPlusFollowers sells 250 Google+ shares for $12.95. InstagramEngine sells 1,000 followers for $12. AuthenticHits sells 1,000 SoundCloud plays for $9.


It's a lucrative business, said the president and CEO of


"The businesses buy the Facebook likes because they're afraid that when people go to their Facebook page and they only see 12 or 15 likes, they're going to lose potential customers," he said. The company official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he recently moved his company offshore to avoid litigation or cease-and-desist notices.


In Indonesia, a social media-obsessed country with some of the largest number of Facebook pages and Twitter users, click farms proliferate.


Ali Hanafiah, 40, offers 1,000 Twitter followers for $10 and 1 million for $600. He owns his own server, and pays $1 per month per Internet Protocol address, which he uses to generate thousands of social media accounts.

The bottom line is simple "The illusion of a massive following is often just that," said Tony Harris, who does social media marketing for major Hollywood movie firms, said he would love to be able to give his clients massive numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook fans, but buying them from random strangers is not very effective or ethical.

And once the prevailing users of social networks grasp that one of the main driving features of the current social networking fad du jour is nothing but a big cash scam operating out of a basement in the far east, expect both Facebook and shortly thereafter, Twitter, to go the way of 6 Degrees, Friendster and MySpace, only this time the bagholders will be the public. Because "it is never different this time." The only certain thing: someone will promptly step in to replace any social network that quietly fades into the sunset.

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Seize Mars's picture

This thread devolves into an argument over the quality of Kim Khardashian's tits in 3, 2, 1...

NotApplicable's picture

This thread makes my day complete.

Faux Economy, FTMFW!!!

As for one Kim, well, I don't think tits are the metric anyone is questioning.

Argumentative enough?

NoDebt's picture

When the IMF directly responds to your articles... you have ascended slightly above click-bait.  Slightly.  So don't go getting a big head about it.


Richard Chesler's picture

Ethics? Ethics???

No wonder scumbags like Obozo make it to POTUS.

Free Corzine damnit!


SafelyGraze's picture

"equities" "market"

"twitter" "followers"

"facebook" "update"

"linkedin" "notification"

"bond" "purchases"

computer talking to computer

we are merely bystanders


boogerbently's picture

Isn't facebook that "girls" social site??

TerminalDebt's picture

I would pay $10 for 1000 squeezes of kim's tits

RKDS's picture

Thought I should mention the Romney campaign was also buying followers and likes.

max2205's picture

I'd rather have a tulip vs a click

Skateboarder's picture

I will not let that fraudulent hobbit occupy the minds of men! In other words, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

Whatever happened to telling your pal, "hey, I like ya very much, alright. You remember that."?

BLOTTO's picture

Because clicking is brainless...perfect for mindless zombies that they've created.


Independent thinking is a dying art...

suteibu's picture

A metaphor for life on this planet.  It is hard to tell what is real.

BLOTTO's picture

Their fiction is the reality...


Seize Mars's picture

The market cap of XOM is about 430 billion. Steel rigs, ships, refineries, trucks, etc. Facebook market cap is 140 billion.


Why should facebook be worth a dollar? A single dollar? I don't get it.

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Because it lets the TPTB watch the sheeple. Also, the boomers put their 401(k) into something. I'm still living off my dividends...

IridiumRebel's picture

Rectangular piece of cotton paper that currently holds value but will shortly be better used as bung wipes when the value declines precipitously.

SoundMoney45's picture

An unbacked credit obligation from a questionably solvent entity.

Seer's picture

FB is the solicitation.  The real money comes from the services (and techno-gadgets).  They're all one big entity (working for the NSA).

jballz's picture

XOM spends 40 million a year on advertising.


what is complicated here. 

Agstacker's picture

I deleted my facebook account when I found out that they will use the photos that you upload any time any where for any reason, without my permission.

gosh's picture

AOL did the same thing in the 1990's this is nothing new.  As long as idiots put a lot of importance on "eyeballs" this stuff will happen

Mr. Magoo's picture

They all did the same thing in the 90,s which will end with the same result, but this time will be exceptionally worse

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

All that money created out of thin air had to go SOMEWHERE, and the recipients of it (not placing a lot of value on that which they receive for free or close to it) spend it frivolously.  In the late 90s it was dot com stocks, mid 2000s real estate, today it's the social networking fad.  A fad, which incidentally is changing right before Zuckerberg's eyes.  My tween and young teen daughters would no more use FB than a dial telephone.  "That's so yesterday, Dad."  So the hip factor is gone and soon FB will be priced like AOL after the dot com collapse....not dead, but not worth very much either.

HL Shancken's picture

I thought of AOL when I read the article, too. What a big star that company was! Now it's about as relevant and well known as MySpace. The same fate awaits today's fads. They'll be all but forgotten in time.

StychoKiller's picture

A few more C-64s and 300 BAUD Modems will punch up their numbers! ....any day now...

odatruf's picture

10 print "Respect the Commodore!"

20 goto 10

30 end



beavertails's picture

All the ad fees are based on number of clicks.  

FAKE.  FAKE.  FAKE.  Sorry Jerry

Tulpa's picture

How do you define "fake"?  My neighbor's cat and dog have Facebook profiles and are constantly sending me videos and links, are they "fake" profiles?  Someone's looking at the ads, that's all that matters.

IridiumRebel's picture

Your neighbors and their very unfortunate animals are fake...narcissistic too. What did Mr Bigglesworth and Milo post today?

Seasmoke's picture

I know this piece of steak is not real.

Mr Pink's picture

Steak not real? Have you eaten any chicken lately? No taste and has a spongelike texture. Never buying that garbage again

Ranger_Will's picture

Started buying the local free-range chickens back about 4 years ago along with eggs and let me tell you I ain't never going back.  The difference in the taste, color, and even the thickness of the chicken's eggs was amazing.  Hard to believe I ate that McCrap for so long. Same goes for local beef, pork, cthullu, whatever.

Redhotfill's picture

Mnn but the TPTB tell me it is juicy and delicious.

NoDebt's picture

.... I know when I put this steak in my mouth the matrix is telling me it is juicy and declicious.....

.... When you put me back in the matrix I want to be somebody important.... like an actor....

.... Ignorance is bliss....

KickIce's picture

Digital fiat, digital gold, digital popularity; hell we even have a movie with some schmuk falling in love with a computer.

AI = Politicians?  Hollywood? ...

IridiumRebel's picture

Is everything fake? BLS numbers, Fakebook hits, twitter "fans", ACA enrollees.....everything is just fake.

ghengis86's picture

Lips, tits and apparently twats (it's a Chinese certificate-of-virginity thing).

I'm just waiting -and banking - on the reconstructed assholes.

Long sphincters

ILikeBoats's picture

It's the unreconstructed assholes you have to worry about...

artless's picture

"Is everything fake? BLS numbers, Fakebook hits, twitter "fans", ACA enrollees.....everything is just fake."

No, not everything. That enormous ice block in antartica is quite real.

And goddamn motherfucking hilarious with those jackass "scientists" stuck in it.

Sometimes you have to take advantage of those opportunities to laugh your fucking ass off.

The irony is too sweet. And quite real.

Possible Impact's picture

PETA will sue, if you try to take Fido's twitter account away. :)

dogmete's picture

Almost everything that comes out of people's mouths is fake, including the thoughts and opinions of your own family members. In fact, especieally family members!

And even your own feelings are mostly based on deception with the aid of self-delusion, so the very things you feel are also not real.


Life is a weird dream within a fake dream and then you die.



IridiumRebel's picture

{grabs numerous towels and car keys and slowly saunters to the garage}

savedbyfreethought's picture

"You never trust the people you love"
Tuco Salamanca

fallout11's picture

Well said. Add in collusion and coersion, and you have covered about all that goes on in the world today. 

williambanzai7's picture

I just got blocked by the Danish PM 

ghengis86's picture

I told you! No more selfies!!

Mochelle-her-wookiness is PISSED!

NoDebt's picture

Cock-blocked by a Danish hottie.  Hate when that happens.  Your first time for this sort of problem?  You'll get past it.