Digital Marketing Companies are selling likes, followers and fake reputation through articles while flouting fair competition.
Digital Marketing companies who conventionally ought to be selling advertising strategies, writing mass enticing content, search engine optimization etc. have parallelly established setups to provide fake followers, likes, comments and subscribes to their clients.
This practice is not much regulated by the laws but in general is considered unethical by many creators and celebrities. The events of legal action on such rackets happens only in the case of large-scale events like the Mumbai Police summons of rapper Baadshah.
These advertising agencies have also established networks to blue tick verify those accounts and publish advertorial articles for them to increase their credibility. But first take a look at the modus operandi of paid like, comment and follow services.
The team of the420.in will continue to expose such illegal business. In the follow-up story we will highlight why and how creating fake profiles and boosting likes, comments and followers is an illegal trade and amount of punishment that can be rewarded. We would like to hear from you about such illegal practice do write to us on our WhatsApp number 9580509795 or email us at [email protected]
While there are many such websites of digital marketing companies offering such schemes, these are a few examples.
According to a study on the black market of social media engagement, these bots are mostly based in English or Russian languages, have an uncanny number of ‘_’ (underscore) characters and are operated in huge quantities by singular entities.
There are dedicated companies who have installed mobile phones in huge quantities and are operated by mechanical machines to do the bot functions. These are called click farms. These digital marketing companies have partnerships with these clickfarms which mostly operate from China.
2017 Instagram sent a cease and desist to the largest automation company on the internet at the time, Mass Planner. Since then, Instagram has continuously shut down and warn whichever automation companies tend to be widely used by Instagram users. The digital marketing companies are also evolving with these advancements and are now functioning in decentralised and decluttered facets of digital traffic quantities by deploying multiple third-party agencies for the bot work. Therefore, it is hard to find patterns and curb the rise of such activities.
All of this is good show business but at the end of the day, there would be zero organic growth of a person availing these facilities. That’s why some profiles with fake followers show a considerably lesser number of likes and comments on their posts. See an example.
With celebrities or wannabe celebrities avail these services, the unaware users of social media get persuaded by the huge audiences which they pose to carry along with them. Subsequently, the advertisers get misled and end up paying more to the under deserving person. According to estimates, ad fraud on Instagram amounts to about $500 million per year.
The Blue Tick Verification Racket
Along with the fake like, comment and follow services, some digital marketers have gone a step further to getting the accounts of people verified on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These digital marketers establish contacts in the offices of the respective social media head offices in India and the employees who are in touch with them get these accounts verified. The current market rate of getting social media accounts verified is around 20,000-40,000 rupees. But this is prone to scams as well because some of their clients bring extremely low social media presence accounts to get verified. There have been instances of digital marketers running away with the money of the people as well.
Sometimes these verified accounts start charging money to tweet with certain keywords/hashtags to trend their client’s keyword/hashtag.