Aldo Agostinelli

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, YouTube is teenagers’ favorite platform, even more loved than Instagram and Snapchat. In this case percentages are clear: 85% of the over 740 interviewees have claimed to like the former best, 75% prefer Instagram, 69% Snapchat and only 51% Facebook.

With its billion views every day, YouTube is, today, the virtual place where users,  both under and over 18, carry out most searches, even more than they do through Google. And it is always here then can efficiently promote their brands global marketing campaigns, build up new careers ( see young youtubers ) and spread political programs. We are talking about mega figures which, however, go together with “collateral businesses”. First of all, the sale of views and comments, similar to the sale of Twitter likes and followers. “Inflating” the popularity of contents is not particularly expensive: 1.000 fake views are sold for less than 1 dollar and many people are resorting to this trick to find their way across the “mare magnum” of the platform and see their videos ranking rise rapidly.

The New York Times has mentioned a few cases: this year Martin Vassilev, a 32-year-old guy from Ottawa, under the motto “Let your video go viral” launched  through its website named 500Views, has already sold 15 million views for a total amount of  200 thousand dollars;, instead, over the last three years, has sold 196 million views for a total value of 1,2 million dollars (The Flourishing Business of Fake YouTube Views).

It is obvious that such businesses represent an anomaly which can alter the ecosystem, making video social media vulnerable to manipulation.

Such problem arose for the first time in 2009. The difference is that now it has become more difficult to tackle it and, although the company claims to have cut the percentage of fakes down to 1%, many observers are still skeptical. Indeed, the latest YouTube algorithm takes into consideration also views matched with interactions ( comments or likes ) which, despite coming from the same platform, use two different IPs.

Actually, the same social platform has paid the price of such issue, since it has been involved in several scandals – from the Elsagate to the plot set up by actors in crisis to ruthless moderators – , to the detriment of its brand image (Inside YouTube’s fake views economy).

Who buys these packages knowing they are breaching the service terms and conditions of the platform must be aware of a fact: they are not dealing with real people commenting or viewing bots. Especially for brands and marketers the real financial benefit is often null.

Have you ever purchased packages of likes, followers or views? Tell me your story tweeting @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world you may read my latest book entitled: “People Are Media

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Aldo Agostinelli