Social Media – Fact or Fiction?

Let’s talk about Trump’s favourite phrase – fake news!

Whilst many of us would say social media is great for keeping in contact with friends or posting those Contiki photos, there is a dark side to these channels, with many social media sites facing a huge problem with the spread of disinformation and fake news.

Social media and the spread of fake news

Click farms are not a new phenomenon, they have been around for several years now and have been set up all across the world, designed to create fake interest or engagement to the highest bidder. These click farms manufacture fake profiles, likes, shares and views through bots or even using manual labour and hundreds of phones!

Many people have purchased fake likes, followers and views including government agencies, politicians and celebrities.

Fake likes are being bought by many social media users

It’s becoming alarming the number of fake profiles on social media channels, with an ABC report estimating the following:

  • Twitter – 48million fake profiles (15% of its users)
  • Facebook – 60million fake profiles
  • Donald Trump – 60% of his followers are fake

However, it’s not just high-profile accounts that purchase these fake likes, a quick google search shows that it’s very easy for the average social media user to buy followers and likes to ‘boost’ their profile.

I find it concerning how easily our social media feeds can be manipulated, and especially worry for those that cannot see or understand this manipulation.

Fake Facebook profile

Recently I spotted a sponsored advert on my Facebook feed for some product I had a vague interest in. What did catch my eye was this post had over 4,000 likes and 500 shares, which didn’t sit right with me. I decided to do some further investigation where I realised that many of these comments were made by fake profiles and accounts.

Simple ways to determine whether accounts are fake include checking when the account was set up, how many friends they have and if the profile has any activity on its page. Whilst younger generations may be able to spot these fake stories and profiles, I fear that even my parents’ generation may not be quite as savvy when it comes to detecting these frauds.

Do you think you can discern the factual from the fake? Please leave a comment with examples of fake news you have seen on social media.

8 Replies to “Social Media – Fact or Fiction?”

  1. Hi Vicki,

    Very interesting read. In the digital marketing era, it seems that targeted adverts are founded on algorithms that collect your data. Sometimes I mention a brand or item in conversation with a friend, and then see it appear on my Instagram or Facebook a few days later! Not only is the culture of buying likes or promoting ads on twitter feeds growing rapidly, but it is scary how much of this is based on data collection. We might have to start reading the terms and conditions a little more carefully.

  2. Hi Vicki! An example suddenly jumps to my mind as I read through the last few paragraph. It was a game advertisement that has been constantly appearing on my facebook feed. Because of the large number of comments and likes, I decided to click on the page, then it took me to the install page on App store where I ended up installing it. As I tapped into the app, all of the mini games displayed on their ads are not free, which completely goes against my expectation. Also the quality of the game was poor. Eventually I found that most of the comments for the game ads were centred on criticising the poor functionalities of the app that they found themselves being cheated.
    I think I have been gradually learning to distinguish the genuineness of online messages through more observation. Especially as a marketing student, I am required to be more aware on the impact of the fake.

    1. Hi Joyce, thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience! How frustrating is it realising we’ve been duped? At least now, we will hopefully be more aware of what these false ads look like and be able to tell before getting involved in fake posts for products!

  3. Hi Vicki, nice article about a very relevant topic! First of all, I think it’s concerning that, as you pointed out, it is so easy to buy likes, followers, etc. I’d like to think that the social media platforms are taking action against this techniques but what I’m afraid of is that, although perhaps nowadays it might be relatively easy to spot these fake accounts if you do a little bit of investigation, in the future perhaps the techniques to replicate fake profiles will be more sophisticated and it will be more difficult both for the users and the social media platforms to spot them. That can be pretty alarming.

    1. Hi Elies, thanks for your comment! Yes, that is the scary part, that as technology advances so does the way people can be scammed. I think its a case of constantly educating ourselves on what is real and what isn’t, as well as educating those around us that might not be as aware.

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