Fake Likes on Instagram Worth More Than Stolen Credit Cards

like facebookDid you know that in the realm of black market e-commerce, a fake like is worth more than a stolen credit card number? Fake fans and likes are on the rise on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and they are worth more than ever. Companies are finding huge revenue in producing these fakes, despite the fact that social networks are cracking down more and more. The downside of these fake likes are when companies go out of control and expose themselves as having paid for their clout on social media.

How It Works

To create these fake likes and followers, hackers have begun manipulating a virus called Zeus for this new purpose. Zeus is typically used to steal credit card information. It makes a computer automatically produce likes and follows from certain users by infecting and controlling it from one central server. The hackers using Zeus sell this capability to companies looking to increase their Twitter following or generate more buzz around their Facebook statuses. This causes that topic or post to trend, meaning that more people will come into contact with it and view it as popular and worthy of their time and attention.

What They’re Worth

Both the fakes likes and the fake followers are sold as packages. For example, to purchase 1,000 fake likes on Instagram, a company would pay about $30. 1,000 fake followers is about half as much at $15. In comparison, hackers typically use Zeus to sell stolen credit card information for about $6 per batch of 1,000 card numbers. This very clearly shows how social media has risen in terms of brand importance and how likes and followers directly translate into monetary value.

The Downside

While fake followers and likes can earn a brand significant buzz and clout on a social media network, the danger lies in purchasing too many and becoming obviously inauthentic. Will Mitchell, an online marketing consultant, states that he has had clients who have purchased as many as 300,000 likes on Facebook at once.

While Mitchell does suggest that his clients purchase likes and followers on occasion to boost their ratings in early online marketing campaigns, going overboard can be damaging to the reputation of a company. Very obviously purchasing your fans on social media gives your company an inauthentic image, which discourages consumers from engaging with and trusting your brand.

Has your company ever bought likes and followers on social media?

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Elizabeth K

Elizabeth Kent is a recent graduate with an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. She earned her B.A. from Smith College with a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a minor in Jewish Studies. Elizabeth recently relocated from the Boston area back to Western Massachusetts, where she spends her free time volunteering with a local non-profit organization. Elizabeth has worked as a writing tutor, archival intern, research assistant, and retail associate. Her interests include studying pop culture, kittens, and making meals with as little cooking as possible.

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