How low-paid workers at 'click farms' create appearance of online popularity (血汗工廠專門在臉書上按讚衝人氣)
How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the "like" button.
There's just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand "likes" at his "click farm". Workers punching the keys might be on a three-shift system, and be paid as little as $120 a year.
Click farms have become a growing challenge for companies which rely on social media measurements – meant to indicate approval by real users – to estimate the popularity of their products.
For the workers, though, it is miserable work, sitting at screens in dingy rooms facing a blank wall, and sometimes working through the night. For that, they could have to generate 1,000 likes or follow 1,000 people on Twitter to earn a single US dollar.
Dhaka-registered Shareyt.com, meanwhile, claims to act as a middleman to connect companies seeking to boost their profile on Facebook, Twitter, Google +1, LinkedIn and YouTube.
"We made it as simple as mouse-clicking," the front page of the site says, claiming that it is "a crowd-sourcing platform to help you improve social media presence and search engine ranking FREE".
Shareyt.com has now seen Facebook and Twitter prevent links to the site being posted on their networks. Twitter bans "fake followers" or the buying of followers.