Criminal Click Farms

INVASION

As you read this, somewhere in a Russian or Chinese city, perhaps Krasnodar, or Guangzhou or Tianjin, there are large rooms full of people with fake identities and social media accounts busily working away at phones and computers connected to the internet, clicking away, making up stories and clicking the like button on other stories, or creating “bots” that do the clicking for them multiplied by a thousand. 

It’s a job to these folks and they are paid a fair wage for their local economy. Its big business. There are even schools to teach people how to do it.

This is also going on in and Thailand, India, and Malaysia, and Iran, and Iraq, and Pakistan, and other countries.  These countries are all flooding the social media space with fake identities, fake messages, fake news.

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, it is estimated that at least half of the traffic on social media in the US today is created by “bots” not humans and that a good share this traffic is created by foreign countries with the intention of swaying American opinions and affecting American politics.

What is happening is illegal, and wrong.  It’s an act of war, and the country these people are at war with is the United States.  (Other countries are affected by this as well, but I’ll let their pundits rant on their behalf. I’m an American.)

THE BIG GAME

It just dawned on me what is going on here.  The entire social media sphere has become one massive multiplayer game with literally BILLIONS of players. It’s the BIG GAME. Everybody that is a member of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, or any other social media network is a player in the BIG GAME  — whether you want to be or not.

The game is so complex, it doesn’t really have any rules, nor does it have one over-arching object, other than to persist.  It morphs daily in gleeful anarchy, and what direction the game takes is determined by the power of ideas – some good, some frivolous, and some downright evil and destructive.

What makes the BIG GAME such a rush to play is that the immediate gratification you get from it.  You get to watch your ideas, your outrageous lies, your horrifying opinions go viral and create these intense, unpredictable effects in the popular culture. 

Feeling this power is the essence of the game, and this is why is particularly attractive to psychopaths, criminals and those who feel they have been maligned by the powerful.

Unlike a tidy internet game like Call of Duty, Fortnite or Overwatch, what the players do the BIG game have real consequences. I’d like to talk about the good things that could be accomplished, but that’s another article.  I’m talking about the outcome of elections being altered based on misinformation. (It is estimated that over 60% of Trump’s twitter followers during the runup to the election were created by bots — in other words, FAKE USERS.) Wars are started on false rumors. (ISIS has become very adept at waging misinformation terror campaigns, having caused large populations to run for their lives when from rather puny little armies with a few pop guns.) People are being literally hounded to DEATH. It is unfortunate, and yes, tragic, but the BIG GAME is having serious detrimental effects on real life.

Because it IS REAL LIFE.

What can be done?  There is only one way I can think of to have any hope of changing this.  Let’s use a big internet game like Overwatch(R) as a metaphor.

Overwatch(R) has a publisher who funds its development.  It has thousands of coders to develop it, then it is released to the public. Users sort of “take over” and the game continues to morph and grow.  But this only happens as long as users continue to fund the game.  If Overwatch(R) pulled the plug, the whole game would cease to exist.

Everything that operates on THIS planet requires MONEY.

Go back to the first paragraph of this rant.  Read it again.

Who is paying those people?  If they weren’t getting paid, do you think they’d continue their dastardly deeds? Not likely.

What they’re doing IS illegal.  Everybody knows this. Shutting down these criminal click farms would cut out the majority of fake traffic on the internet.  Follow the money.  Cut the funding. The threat shrivels.

FOLLOW THE MONEY.

THIS IS WAR.

AND WE ARE LOSING IT.

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