Nicholas Confessore, The Follower Factory, The New York Times, January 27, 2018
Defraud & Ruin
In November, Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform. These fake accounts, known as bots, can help sway advertising audiences and reshape political debates. They can defraud businesses and ruin reputations. Yet their creation and sale fall into a legal gray zone.
Through the WI Lens
‘Influencers’ increasingly affect the success (or failure) of companies, particularly in the hospitality and wellbeing industry. It is they who determine what to like (or not), and who have an outsized influence on branding. But as this fascinating piece of investigative journalism demonstrates, the business of influencing is corrupt. The article delves into the global marketplace for social media fraud. As a business, some companies specialize in selling fake followers (and likes and retweets) to influencers and other celebrities (including politicians and investors). Buying bots is big business: an influencer with 100,000 followers might earn an average of $2,000 for a promotional tweet, while an influencer with a million followers might earn $20,000. This booming economy of online influence reaches into virtually any industry where a mass audience can be monetized, and as the article shows, fake accounts deployed by governments, criminals and entrepreneurs now pervade social media networks. According to some people, nearly 15% of active Twitter’s users are automated accounts designed to simulate real people.
The take-away: the industry must take the “likes” and “retweets” with a large pinch of salt and prepare for a future of fake news. Competitors will be very unforgiving for those who cheat.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.