January 7, 2019

"How much of the internet is fake?"

"Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was 'bots masquerading as people,' a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event 'the Inversion.'... I’m not sure the solution is... to red-pill ourselves back to 'reality.' What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t 'truth,' but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be. Years of metrics-driven growth, lucrative manipulative systems, and unregulated platform marketplaces, have created an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real...."

From "How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually" (NY Magazine).

52 comments:

rhhardin said...

I misrepresent and distort in my own name.

n.n said...

The internet, the press... people adapt.

Lucid-Ideas said...

I have actually been to a click-farm, and quite recently too. The level of sophistication is an order of magnitude more than what you see in that video. They're now able to manufacture a new IP and SIM on demand, several thousand times in a minute and all digitally without having to go to the lengths of actually having the physical phone. The way forward is to assume that the impressions are all fake, until proven otherwise. Interestingly, they also do verification on a contract basis too...busy busy bees.

The Gipper Lives said...

Its gotten so bad, the Macedonian Content Farms want tariffs against the Chinese Click Farms.

Nonapod said...

There seems to be a queationable conflation of a few things her. For example, bots. For one thing, not all "bots" are nefarious ways that are clearly definable.

There's a bunch of different types of "bots" that crawl the internet. There's the loads of bots that collect info for the big search engines obviously (sometimes refered to as web crawlers, like Googlebot).

Then there's bots that datamine information for other private companies of course. Are they all bad?

Then of course there's the various social media bots that promote different things. Many of them are just for advertising. One example is the bots that put up "forum spam" posts that you sometimes see around here. YMMV on how evil that is.

Then there's social media bots run by foreign governments to promote ideas, disrupt political discourse, or cause division in geopolitical adversaries.

There's bots run by hackers of course, Zombies used to do things like DDOS attacks.

Leland said...

Maybe they need a reverse Turing test. Right now, it seems the tech industry has decided that fake also means right viewpoints. That's not helping their stock.

traditionalguy said...

Sniffing out the fakes is a quick and easy activity. The question is why so many people like to argue with the obvious fakes letting them become the center of attention. It is like watching a pack of greyhounds chasing an electric rabbit.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

traditionalguy said...

Sniffing out the fakes is a quick and easy activity.

Unfortunately, creating the fakes is quicker and easier. You humans are losing the race.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You humans are losing the race.

I mean, we humans are losing the race. Because I'm like totally human. Not like those other bots.

RK said...

The Chinese are weird. What are they up to?

Roy Lofquist said...

And this differs from High School? How?

Balfegor said...

Re: Nonapod:

There's a bunch of different types of "bots" that crawl the internet. There's the loads of bots that collect info for the big search engines obviously (sometimes refered to as web crawlers, like Googlebot).

I like to call them "spiders" because it is creepier than "web crawler."

Anyhow, one instance of this that hasn't got much play in the West for some reason is the left-wing clickbot operation supporting Moon Jae-in during the 2017 election (I know the wikipedia article says "2018 opinion rigging," but it took place in 2016-2017). A prominent progressive activist committed suicide when it came out that he had not only received illegal donations, but also apparently fabricated exclupatory evidence back in 2016. Anyhow, the relevance here is that the underlying conduct basically seems to have been developing a clickbot to upvote left-wing comments. Prosecutors requested that 'Druking' be sentenced to a 7 years imprisonment for that. The progressive governor of South Gyeongsang province, Kim Kyoung-soo, has also been indicted, and prosecutors requested that he be sentenced to five years. Just to be even handed here, it isn't just left-wingers who are engaging in this kind of misconduct -- there's an ongoing (?) investigation into whether the intelligence services engaged in the same kind of online opinion manipulation for the Right, resulting in the temporary detention of the former minister of defense, Kim Kwan Jin, and the suicide of the former head of the Defense Security Command.

It feels like the wheels are coming off in Korea again. However bad you may think Trump is -- it could be so so much worse.

Seeing Red said...

Under communism one shouldn’t have unemployment. When I was in Eastern Europe, there were pay stalls and a woman there to hand you your towel.

No unemployment.

When I was in China they were working with pickaxes on the highway.

No unemployment.

When I C this pic, I think no unemployment. I also think do they need to go to school?

Your kids future.

traditionalguy said...

Practice Tip: The bots always try to flatter you. They don't need any other trick.

Yancey Ward said...

If you are being paid for clicks on anything, someone will create the clicks for a fee.

I think internet advertising is just one giant scam at basically all the levels.

See Lucid-Ideas comment above- what you see in that video is nothing that really represents the true scale and sophistication of today's click farms. It was almost like the magazine wants to write the story, but doesn't want to harm its own ability to fleece its own ad buyers.

rcocean said...

I'm always amazed that certain "Never trumpers" on Twitter supposedly have 10,000 or 100,000 followers, and yet will get 6 replies to their tweets.

Facebook has been padding their viewer numbers forever, but the advertisers haven't asked for any money back, which makes me wonder how much the advertisers are driven by profit vs. social control.

robother said...

And yet, as Ann has demonstrated, all that's needed is a simple check the box "I'm not a robot" (supplemented from time to time by having to check every square with traffic lights). She has cleverly exploited robot's one weakness: they cannot tell a lie.

stevew said...

I am not a bot. Though that it is exactly what bot would say when questioned.

Bill Peschel said...

We've always been fronting. To get a movie contract, Clive Cussler inflated the number of books he sold worldwide. During a lawsuit in the 1990s, Russell Simmons had to confess that he boosted the profitably of his various businesses by an order of magnitude.

Tech just makes it easier.

Where it really hurts is when I'm paying for Amazon ads for my books, and I have to wonder how much of it was legitimately generated.

rcocean said...

Robert: Its not a lie, if the Robot *Thinks* its telling the truth.

Bill Peschel said...

Oh, and on Amazon, their bots are studiously rooting out book reviews written by legitimate readers -- in part because they discern some connection between them and the author (such as following said author on Twitter) -- while leaving the bogus reviews alone.

robother said...

Careful. Your cynicism is undermining my faith in the existence of... Chuck.

rehajm said...

rhhardin said...
I misrepresent and distort in my own name.


Me too!

rehajm said...

That less than 60 percent of web traffic is human statistic is fake- lots of us are just really bad at identifying stoplights and store fronts.

Rosalyn C. said...

Fake is the new real.

Francisco D said...

I am a little confused.

Is this supposed to explain Ritmo and Chuck?

I'm Full of Soup said...

To answer this question, I'd first need to know how much of the internet is represented by NYT, Wapo, Yahoo News, NPR, NBC, MSNBC, Mother Jones, Slate, The Atlantic, The Bulwark, etc.

hstad said...

Well, if the myth is "Porn dominates the Internet" is true. There's your answer!

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

with any luck, the Cortez-Castro dictatorship of Venezuelan love can be our offical Potemkin Village.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I called NBC's Kasie Hunt a retard on Twitter and was suspended. I note Kathy Griffin can call people MFer's and tell them to drop dead and she seems to be left alone by the Twitter bigshots. She uses her real name while I don't. Does that make me a fake?

pacwest said...

"Practice Tip: The bots always try to flatter you. They don't need any other trick."

From your comments I can tell you a handsome, generous, and intelligent person. Obviously well liked by all around you.

Big Mike said...

an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real...."

Sure explains Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and TPM.

narciso said...

what part of new York magazine is real? certainly not much of Halperin and heileman's work,

JohnAnnArbor said...

What a tremendously sad job.

But this is predictable. There's a market, so the service will be provided if shenanigans cannot be distinguished from real visitors.

Fernandinande said...

Won't someone think of the Russians?

gilbar said...

forget about honest, hard working bots that have to watch the same you tube all day long;
Let's talk about The Real Problem. Humans that are paid for comments about things like tesla
if we could get rid of Them! The world would be a happier place

narciso said...

did new York magazine get taken by this, rhetorical?

https://shadowandact.com/green-book-is-full-of-lies-dr-don-shirleys-family-speaks-out

Sebastian said...

So how much of the market value of Facebook and Google is also fake?

Before long, Althouse will be the only non-fake corner of the Internet left--not counting proggy troll bots and bots impersonating LLRs, of course.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I confess. Tyrone Slothrop is not my real name.

wildswan said...

I felt as if there was bot invasion on this site several months or a year ago, perhaps. Suddenly there was a flood of the most vile expressions of lefty opinion and pointless attacks (not the usual suspects but something that seemed truly brain-dead and perhaps automated). But what is killfile for but to resist the Invasion of Zombie Opinion Distortion? Then it went away. I guess in a while someone will write on book on notable bot campaigns and how to spot-the-bot. I wouldn't be surprised if spot-the-bot includes reading print a certain amount which it will turn out defeats all efforts to hide bot nature. Sort of like having perfect pitch or anyhow a tuning fork.

Qwinn said...

I *want* to believe that Ritmo and Inga are just bots, but I don't think anyone's created a bot capable of mimicing their level of stupidity yet.

robother said...

And with one mordant observation, Qwinn restores my faith in the existence of Chuck.

gerry said...

"Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human

I had no idea so much Web traffic was Progressive Democrat drivel.

Kevin said...

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by impeachment fantasies, rabid hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through bot-generated Tweets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
Trump-deranged hipsters burning for a pseudo-civil connection to Obama’s Administration which was already being erased by the editors of the NYT in the night,
who buoyed by corporate titles their parents can’t understand, driving German cars built by South Carolina deplorables, they bathed in the supernatural darkness of climate-controlled flats staring across the tops of cities contemplating RBG’s pancreas,
who bared their souls to Hillary in the voting booth and saw ending a Middle East war as unconscionable for the very first time,
who passed through universities with degrees in Studies hallucinating an end to racism and inequality while praising the Palestinians and damning the Jews,
who were expelled from the women’s march for being too white or too male or not trans “enough”,
who cowered in plasma-lit rooms in underwear, burning their money on Jill Stein recounts and listening to Maddow choose their next nominee,

The Godfather said...

I'm at a loss to understand why I should care about this. I don't sell advertising on the internet, I don't pay the internet to publish my thoughts. The robots could run rampant as far as I'm concerned. Am I missing something?

(I know they're called "bots", but "robots run rampant" sounds so much better.)

n.n said...

Virtual asset (e.g. Google, Twitter, NYT) inflation causes price and information distortions that affect real property, people, and even elections.

Mary Beth said...

I write and promote Facebook posts for events that are sponsored by the place I work. In the beginning, a number of the comments were asking where it was located even though it had the place name in the post and was targeted to people in the same city. To try to answer that in advance, I added the address into our page's FB cover photo.

The next promoted post, I'm still getting the "where are you located?" questions, so I assume it's because they are just seeing the post and not our FB page. After that I start including the address in the text of the post. I'm still getting the same question. Now I've decided it's just bots. It's also possible these people are just that stupid. It could go either way, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm paying FB to show my post to bots who respond in a way that makes me think I'm reaching potential customers.

Bill Peschel said...

The Godfather asks: "I'm at a loss to understand why I should care about this"

Advertisers should care about this because they're paying good money and getting little or no return. If these bots are also spreading misinformation, they're creating potemkin villages of discourse that doesn't exist, and this affects how people view candidates and issues.

For example, what if all those Twittiodts posting "Republicans hate Occasional-Cortex because she dances" are fake? They're still polluting the discourse and creating an image that doesn't exist. And what if that's used on an issue that really matters?

narciso said...

yes, it's about par for the course:

https://twitchy.com/sarahd-313035/2019/01/07/you-vile-liar-alleged-journalist-called-out-for-doubling-down-on-disgusting-smear-of-bre-payton/

Tommy Duncan said...

87% of statistics are made up.

Unknown said...

I tried to advertise 5 yrs ago with Google adwords. Clickthroughs to my site cost me. All my traffic was bots (crawlers) and I was paying for them when i wanted real people. I had to give up.

Josephbleau said...

All your internet are belong us. Make your time.