Cyber Culture: Likes, dislikes and the strange folk who buy them online

 

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache, MySQL, Moodle)

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior .NET Web Developer - Winform / MVC

    £21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Java Developer

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Java Developer is requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there