Crowd-Frauding: Why the Internet is Fake

Eric Hellman, Globe, Feb 10, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The message for me in this - beyond the obvious, which is that you should take any claims about web traffic with a grain of salt - is that models built on mass will tend to fail over the long run. The reason is described in this post. "I'm naturally optimistic that the crowd, connected by the social internet, will be an immensely powerful force for good," writes Eric Hellman. "I'm also continually reminded that the bad guys will use the crowd, too. And it won't be pretty." He points to a program called Jingling. "Once you've activated Jingling, the webpages you want to promote start getting hundreds of visitors from around the world. The visitors look real, they click around your page, they click on the advertisements, they register accounts on websites, they click "like" buttons and follow you on Twitter. Meanwhile, your computer starts running a website-visiting, ad-clicking daemon. It visits websites specified by other Jingling users." If you only care how many people are connecting to you, you leave yourself open to things like this.

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