There are dozens of pages on the Internet where you can easily buy I like you or followers. It’s no secret, but a new scientific article measures how much it costs to boost an account on any social network. Cheapest prices to buy direct traffic to the webpage, I like you on Instagram or views on YouTube. For 1.3 euros you can buy a thousand Likes On Instagram and 2 euros, 1,000 YouTube video views are achieved. Followers on Instagram cost a little more: 4.3 euros buy a thousand. And a thousand copies on Spotify, for a little less: 2 euros. There are also more expensive services because they involve more customization: reviews on Google or TripAdvisor, for example, can cost up to €1 per text.
The numbers come from the scientific article Analysis of fake social networking services, the work of four Spanish researchers. Prices are averages taken from 58 websites selling these services, measured over a four-month period in 2020: “Everything is displayed, anything that needs to be clicked, typed or clicked”. gamesays Juan Tapiador, professor at Carlos III University and co-author of the article.
The sector is murky and there is little business to operate it. “The issue of erroneous interaction on social networks and content distribution platforms is a well-known phenomenon, but in fact it is very little studied,” says Tapiador. On the other hand, its operation has some secrets: a simple search on Google gives results and on YouTube there are tutorials on how to do it; Explain how to monetize a YouTube channel with fake subscribers and watch time. [EL PAÍS no enlaza a ninguna de estas páginas para no darles más alcance del necesario.]
Like any other online purchase
The process of buying on one of these pages is similar. You choose an account, open an account, or add money with a card, cryptocurrency, or any other means. Once done, just go to the product you want to buy (Likescopy, hits, comments, followers), providing the destination that that service (account, Mail, video, location), required quantity and specific characteristics, if there are options. These options are another result of the article: “The interesting aspect is the level of customization of the services. For example, for many interactions (playing music, watching a video, Likes social networks) you can choose not only the geographical origin of the account that will do this, but also its gender (male / female), ”says Tapiador.
called services “loves power”, For example. They are Likes Of accounts with thousands of followers that are supposed to work the algorithm to give more visibility to a particular post. “Modifiers play a huge role in pricing. Geographical location and gender can increase the price of a comment on YouTube, follower on Instagram, or playback on Spotify or SoundCloud between 200% and 300%,” says Tapiador.
These options Excellent Services become more expensive. There is a third possibility that also raises prices: services that require interaction to happen from a non-free account. For example, subscribers to a Twitch channel from an Amazon Prime account [Twitch es propiedad de Amazon y una de las ventajas de tener una suscripción Prime es poder apoyar a una cuenta de streaming], they can make the operator receive money from Amazon. In these cases, just like with Spotify streams or YouTube views, there is a small market for defrauding money platforms by creating completely fake channels, just to generate revenue. If thousands of bots subscribing to a fake Twitch channel with Prime accounts costs less than what Amazon pays, there are benefits. There are developing countries where this can be a small business model.
Not everything is so easy
This is the easy part. But as with all scams, there are risks: followers may never arrive, they may arrive and then disappear, or the platform may discover the scam and close the account, among other things. As always in technology, everyone who buys fake followers may think they are showing magic. This is not the case. These accounts do exist and could be farms with thousands of cell phones and a thousand SIM cards or a botnet, simply a person controlling hundreds of thousands of computers to click on or visit a website.
Pages offering these services are sellers, and they have no control over farms or botnets, according to Tapiador. “It’s like if you want to buy an iPhone or a MacBook, but Apple doesn’t have stores. You go to other stores and everyone sells what they have. Someone offers this service, but they don’t give their name because it’s bordering on illegal. If you knew,” Tapiador says Platforms are whoever they are, they will suppress them.” These providers can be of different sizes or characteristics: “Vendors offer a certain number of interactions, and you never know how they will serve you. You just see that a lot of accounts start to give you Likes Or have more views.
This variety of offerings means that prices are not standard. For this reason, academics averaged between the different pages. The differences can be enormous in some cases: “They can charge you up to 100 times more for the same thing.”
Why aren’t the platforms more active against these practices? It’s not that easy. There is no single, simple and effective way, and in the end, most of them are real accounts, albeit collectively managed. “It’s a very complex task,” Tapiador says. “The platforms are very careful. You need very accurate detectors.” Also, no one knows who pays for the operation. If the platforms are quick when suspicious, it would be easy to sink a competitor’s account by paying 10k new followers for a few euros. “A false positive is a drama. And what does a false negative mean? Someone increases their engagement and you don’t catch them? What would happen, if you had to give them three more dollars for ads that generated those views?” “real”.
“The platforms are very aware of the use of these services and try to mitigate their effects when they are able to detect them, for example by removing those interactions from the counters or even penalizing the accounts involved. However, there is little transparency about these processes and their effectiveness,” says Tapiador. Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has already announced a crusade against bots on the platform, although there are no effective measures to end it.
How many people actually use these services? There is hardly any evidence. The investigation analyzed the general traffic of some of these boards according to Alexa, a public traffic measurement page. They don’t do well, but they don’t need that big of an audience to have an impact. Its use is more likely to give the account a down payment than to start from scratch. If you are a brand or marketing company and need to make your customer appear relevant, the initial purchase is beneficial and non-risky. The transactions we analyze in the sales forums indicate that these services are purchased frequently. That your website has low traffic globally is not a big deal, because only a small percentage of users or content creators can use it. One hypothesis is that it is not the users who buy these services directly, but the agencies to whom they delegate the promotion of their activity, ”explains Tapiador.
If you have more information or knowledge about using these services, you can write to [email protected]
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