Wednesday, January 2, 2013

(Opinion) Fake YouTube and Twitter Views : Why You Shouldn’t Be Shocked

There really shouldn’t be much surprise upon hearing that a lot of views and follows amongst billion dollar companies and celebrities on YouTube and Twitter, as for the most part , both YouTube and Twitter are both corporate entities whose interest in social communication and the building of authentic networks come a distant second to excessive self-promotion and the deception of millions of people.

Thanks to a crackdown by YouTube and Google (owners of YouTube), we have seen that a lot of views, especially music labels, have had fake view counts going into the billions as music industry behemoth Universal Music Group “los 1 billion of its 7 billion views” which is nothing compared to the monumental losses of views experienced by Sony “who lost 850 million views”[1].

The surprise about this story is not that so many views were fake but why Google waited for so long to audit the views of its users. It’s no shock that prominent YouTube channels would use fake views in a bid fool YouTube viewers that they are more popular than they actually are in reality. While the channels who saw the biggest cull in viewership are billion dollar companies, there is an air of fraud about the whole affair as advertisers have been fooled confirming the skepticism among ad men that using the internet is the best way to waste an ad budget.This growing skepticism affects other YouTube channels ad revenue as they get tarred with the same brush. However this debacle hasn’t affected everybody as breakout hits like ‘Gangnam Style’ “is still dancing along at 1 billion views, a YouTube record”[2].

While YouTube have decided to crack down on the use of fake view counts, celebrities on twitter have been less than honest about the views generated on their twitter accounts. Fake views building on twitter is so perverse that even the United States President’s twitter account has been accused of using fake followers[3]. Forbes compiled a list of celebrities and public figures with fake followers with the list dominated by musicians with superstars Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber making an appearance[4].

The use of fake accounts on twitter is ridiculous that even twitter’s own account features on the list[5]. However, this is no shock as twitter doesn’t monitor or get rid of accounts which are clearly fake. Typical of capitalism, this is all being driven by a growing industry benefiting from the laziness of celebrities to build real social networks which offer to build well followed twitter account and fast at a price.

In sum, the growth of fake YouTube and Twitter viewers and followers is perverse as it affects those users who have built their following or viewers organically by reducing ad revenue as it adds more evidence to the suggestion that social media sites are bad platforms to promote a product. However this has become systemic as both YouTube and twitter have done very little to combat the growth of fake views and followers.

[1] Huffington Post, 2012, Fake YouTube Views Cut By 2 Billion As Google Audit Record Companies Video Channels,
[2] Ibid
[3] J. Greathouse, 2012,  Celebrities With The Most (Allegedly) Fake Twitter Followers,
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid

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