Thursday, August 9, 2012

Facebook Sock Puppets

I'm a big fan of Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert and try and listen to all their shows.

Keiser Report (E324) Crooks, Crimes and Chaos at about 4:00 minutes in discusses a most bizarre phenomenon: Facebook sock puppets!

The story is that a digital distribution company, Limited Press, concluded from its ad analytics the following:

80% of clicks on Limited Press' advertisements came from fake users

Bots were loading pages and driving up advertising revenue.

Facebook has 83 million illegitimate accounts

Majia here: Wow! And I found additional sources to support these claims:

Facebook admits up to 83m profiles could be 'fake' by Andrew Laughlin

[Excerpted] Facebook has confirmed that up to 83 million profiles on the world's largest social network are believed to be fake.

The BBC reports a recent Facebook company filing as saying that 8.7% of the firm's 955m worldwide users may not be legitimate. 

It was revealed that 4.8% of the suspected profiles were outright fakes, while 2.4% were misclassified accounts - essentially users who have created profiles "for a business, organization, or non-human entity such as a pet". 

However, 1.5% were put in a category labelled "undesirable" - profiles that have been deemed to be in breach of Facebook's terms of service, such as spammers….


Businesses wasting money chasing Facebook 'likes', suggests BBC probe Friday, Jul 13 2012, 8:26am EDT | By Andrew Laughlin |

[Excerpted] "Companies could be wasting thousands of dollars on adverts to gain Facebook 'likes', as users of the social network are not actually intent on purchasing their products, according to a BBC investigation.

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said that many Facebook account holders who 'like' products have actually lied about their personal details.

Security experts even warn that profiles are being created by hackers to spread spam on the social network, although Facebook denies this."

Majia Here: I recall that Forbes had published an article about the US military creating sock puppets:

Parmy Olson (2011, March 17). Anonymous, The Military And Fake Virtual Armies. Forbes.

[Excerpted] "In Iraq and Afghanistan the military has started using software that allows it to create fake online identities to counter enemy efforts to recruit new members, using tactics like posting fake comments on blogs.

The practice was highlighted last night when the online hacking collective Anonymous released documents and e-mails highlighting the use of software to create multiple, fake online profiles, also known as “sock puppets” or “virtual armies” to sway public opinion. Anonymous, which has a small team of half a dozen supporters conducting their own investigation into the documents, claims the software has been used to track users on social networks like Facebook in foreign countries."

Majia here: An additional source on military sockpuppets:
U.S. Military Launches Spy Operation Using Fake Online Identities

[Excerpted] The U.S. Military has purchased software designed to create and control false online personas in an attempt to use social media and other websites to counter anti-U.S. messaging.

According to the contract between US Central Command (Centcom) and California company Ntrepid, the software would let each user control 10 personas, each "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent." The software would also be able to let personas "appear to originate in nearly any part of the world" and interact through "conventional online services and social media platforms," while using a static IP address for each persona to maintain a consistent online identity.

These false online personas, also known as "sock puppets," would be equipped to seem like real people while entering online discussion through blogs, message boards, chats, and more. With a false persona, a user could discredit opponents, or create the semblance of consensus....

Majia Here: It appears that sock puppets are widespread. This phenomenon illustrates a number of ideas that have been examined in this blog:

Ubiquitous Surveillance by corporations and government

Ubiquitous Fraud by corporations and government

Shallowness of Consumer Culture (to be fooled by sock puppets implies a shallow level of social discourse, does it not?)

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