the Number of followers, comments, likes or views to show the significance of an account or post in social media. But can we really trust them?
the Manipulation of social media is an industry that has long been moving in the borderland between legal and illegal. A few weeks ago, CNN reported that the legal fight drew in time. Letitia James, who has the state of New York's top legal office, was crystal clear:
– the Bots and other fake accounts have run amok on social media platforms, often by stealing real people's identities to conduct fraud, " she said in an interview.
the state agreed the first known settlement with a company that created fake posts and comments, and earned large sums of selling activity on.
the company had the millions rolled in. Discreet had sold fake followers, likes and impressions to the accounts on platforms such as Twitter and Youtube.
For the 280, the client received the 100 new subscribers on a youtube channel. For 40.000 sek was promised 500,000 new followers to a twitter account.
Among the buyers were actors, musicians, politicians, sports stars and companies. With the trade, they saw an opportunity to increase the attractiveness of their accounts.
Whether the news from New York will have global repercussions remains to be seen, but it has put new light on a question which many have asked for accountability.
social media is transnational, consisting of a complex web of actors, islands even for the experts. Try to identify the system is made in several places, including at the Nato centre of excellence for strategic communications, Stratcom.
Much of the political conversation revolves today around the informationspåverkan and manipulation online, and it can essentially only exist because of the weaknesses of social media.
Recently, they presented a report after djupdykt in search of the european market, producers, distributors, retailers, buyers and victims. Sebastian Bay, the Swedish representative at Stratcom, explains that the goal is both to understand the system's vulnerabilities, examine what social media companies are really doing about the problem.
in the end, it is the platforms that must take responsibility, says Bay.
– Much of the political conversation revolves today around the informationspåverkan and manipulation online, and it can essentially only exist because of the weaknesses of social media. This is something we need to work a lot harder, " says Sebastian Bay.
He sees the market as grey rather than black. Advanced networks, focusing on the political påverkansoperationer, often seems hidden. At the same time, a large part of the trade open, available for anyone to use.
varies, depending on what the buyer is looking for, " says Sebastian Bay. The more authentic and credible accounts that are new followers, or write the comments, the less is the risk that the social media ' of the filter clears them away quickly. But higher quality means higher cost.
the range of Options is large. Should new traffic come from genuine, human accounts or is it enough with the artificial bot accounts? To new comments trigger debate? Must accounts to appear to be Swedish? Do you want a software program to identify and follow accounts with a high probability of following you back?
the Goal is often the same: It's all about creating the impression on the net, take advantage of the platforms ' algorithms, where popular materials are being rewarded and becomes visible to more people.
– the Genuineness creates greater freedom of action, "says Sebastian Bay, and take the infamous Russian trollfabriken the Internet research agency as an example:
" the Whole reason for their operations worked was that they could control many accounts at the same time that looked real, operate in the hidden groups and contribute to the dissemination of content.
people in the industry close is Johan Lindquist, professor of social anthropology at Stockholm university. Last year he was in Indonesia several times, and met about thirty people working with selling followers on social media, especially in Jakarta.
most of The Lindquist met are young men, several of whom began their presence on the internet to sell accounts on the online role-playing game ”World of warcraft”. Some of the people working on their own, others in groups of up to eight, not rarely with their group of friends or relatives.
the Sellers ' working day involves a lot of ”cut and paste”, as Lindquist puts it – to maneuver the software and machine learning to make the business roll around the clock.
" I met the ones that are niched towards indonesian customers, especially because of the lack of language skills, but the chain of sellers and producers are very transnational. They possess a high level of digital literacy in a difficult employment market, and this will be a way to make money, " explains Johan Lindquist.
None of them know where the deep, the bottom there. A common conspiracy theory is that, for example, Instagram itself is the source.
increases, they can, " says Lindquist, approaching the industry's raw material, that is to say, the place where botkonton created, or the actors that hijacks existing accounts. By shortening the chain, sellers can reduce their own overhead and increase their income, something you can recognize from many other industries. But the industry is unattractive even to the sellers themselves, says Lindquist.
" None of them know where the deep, the bottom there. A common conspiracy theory is that, for example, Instagram itself is the source. Some I met had themselves tried to produce new fejkkonton, but laid by in order to earn better in the transfer process as a reseller. But millionaires are not.
Johan Lindquist at the same time have gained some insight into who is buying followers of the vendors in Indonesia. It can be anything from startupbolag, authorities, social media strategists at large enterprises, politicians and young people who want to have more likes.
in social media, however, is not only a problem for those who want to know the truth about the network or to counteract that hired klickarméer used in the politically obscure purposes. Swedish Radio Echo, set in a series of feature researched the market, recently reported that more and more advertising companies want to examine whether the well-known influerarkonton in social media are manipulated.
Several reviews have drawn attention to the problem. In december, Abstract Insight, having identified 300 known influerare, that on average 25 percent of their followers were fake. A study from the association Swedish Advertisers also gave similar results.
Reports have come in of a when more and more advertisers look over the possibilities of so-called ”influences marketing”, where you pay people with a great reach in social media to contribute to the marketing or influence public opinion, become increasingly popular. In addition to private companies are using the strategy, it has also been in the systems of several of the country's larger cities and municipalities, as DN reported on in the fall.
the Bots have begun to behave more like people and more like bots.
or company to clarify what is authentic in the social media world is difficult, says Sebastian Bay on the Nato Stratcom.
On platforms where more background information about the users is hidden, it can, in principle, be impossible. The visual inspection that is often recommended – for example, study and review the names or profile pictures to the accounts, where they are based and how accounts are expressing themselves in the comments – has also become more difficult.
– Bots have begun to behave more like people and more like bots. We've got a generation who consume the internet just as much as the pioneers in social media – but they do not behave the same way, " says Sebastian Bay and continues:
Many young people write with large letters, have strange profile pictures, changing the accounts and has bunch of numbers after their name. There are things that in the past have been a clear indicator that it is a bot, but so behave themselves all of a sudden a lot of people.
the Development goes quickly, says Bay, who, despite the problems, see a hope in that more and more want to approach the industry to the core. The next goal for him is to more deeply understand how social media platforms are really acting to counter the manipulation.
" one asks oneself really the question: How much can we rely on? So much of our behavior is deleted from the ranking, the different types of recommendations and quantitative indications. And how much is manipulated, the, today we have really no idea.