Cyber Culture: Likes, dislikes and the strange folk who buy them online
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Wednesday 09 October 2013
Earlier this week I saw someone mention on Twitter that they'd just seen a gig flyer where the band had proudly included their current total of Facebook likes alongside the date, the venue and the price of admission. We're now living in a world where this kind of running tally is deemed to be important information, that the quality of something can be deduced from the number of people who've taken a fraction of a second to thumb something up online.
This hot pursuit of big numbers has resulted in frequent accusations of "fake likes"; batches of likes can be bought online from shady dealers and then applied on various social platforms, from Facebook to Instagram to YouTube and beyond. Everyone from presidential candidates to underground musicians has been accused of it.
The "like" has become the currency of popularity over the past couple of years, but oversupply has devalued it to the point where the numbers have become almost meaningless.
True, genuine likes on Facebook have a worth; if someone's thumbed up your project, any updates you then post may well stray into that person's newsfeeds and remind them you still exist. But fake likes, which come from fake accounts that no one uses, have no worth beyond extra notches on the social media post. The sale of YouTube likes is even more baffling; vendors claim that getting the numbers up "opens doors to business opportunities" and "increases curiosity," and that a lack of likes means that your promotional campaign has failed.
But quite how that's remedied by 1,000 fake thumbs up is unclear. Yes, the grading of search results on YouTube depends on a complex algorithm that includes the number of likes (along with the number of views, subscriptions and the length of time people watch the video) but boosting likes doesn't draw in viewers directly.
And do these numbers even look impressive anyway? Does anyone know what actually constitutes an impressive figure? I saw a press release last week boasting about a new author's 7,000 Twitter followers. I know that 7,000 cans of beans is a lot of beans, but 7,000 Twitter followers? What does that actually mean?
The reason I'm banging on about this is because I just stumbled across a site selling YouTube dislikes, at which point this whole issue transferred to the theatre of the absurd for an extended autumn season.
Apparently, if you've bought a load of YouTube likes, having no dislikes looks suspicious. So you remedy this by paying for non-existent accounts to diss your video in order to maintain some kind of balance between yea-sayers and naysayers. And while you wrestle with the notion of what that optimum ratio should be, who's actually watching the video? No one.
Life & Style blogs
Livr: A social network only for drunk people
'It's brusquely intimate': A bereaved daughter tackles the task of emptying her father's flat
Fenwicks department store withdraws Boy London clothing over 'Nazi' eagle logo complaints
Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
International Women's Day 2014: Google compiles celebratory video to mark the day
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a start-up mobile app develo...
£6.31 per hour: Inspiring Interns: This growing predictive analytical software...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# ASP.NET Deve...