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Beware of Fake Influencers!

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Social Media
© photothek.net

Does your daughter spend large chunks of her free time on Instagram, following the posts of various stars? Does your son eagerly await the latest videos from his favorite YouTuber? This is not unusual. But how sure can your kids be that these influencers have real followers and honest likes? Fake news is well known, but have you heard of fake influencers?

What is a fake influencer?

Fake influencers are alleged influencers who could and can only expand their large reach through purchased followers, likes and comments. Often these “influencers” have more followers through fake accounts than real fans. Likes and comments also come from the purchased accounts.

Or there are so-called “bots” behind the accounts. These are then not people, but programs that post pictures, distribute likes and comments arbitrarily and follow other accounts according to a certain programmed scheme (algorithm). Hoping to get followers who will follow them back, the bot follows hundreds of accounts per day, only to unfollow them again automatically a few days later. These programs can also be linked to specific hashtags. For example, all photos under the hashtag “Love” get the comment: “Great photo!” or similar. A follower community is quickly built up, but it is only bought.

Why are there fake influencers?

The individual motifs are not always 100% known. But it can be assumed that the fake influencers would like to profit from the benefits of an influencer’s life: Giveaways, paid travel, invitations to events, or even paid promotion of a particular product are attractive. However, since most companies only become aware of an account when it has a reach of more than 10,000 followers, it’s not so easy to profit from it yourself. In contrast, it is not difficult and especially not expensive to buy followers, likes and comments. Often, even small amounts of money are enough to advance your account.

Why is it important to recognize fake influencers?

On the Internet, not everything is as it seems. Children and young people should definitely be able to recognize fake influencers, otherwise they may follow people who represent false ideals and morals. It is important that children and young people develop a feeling for what is still real or already fake on the Internet.

How do I recognize fake influencers?

Recognizing fake influencers is not as difficult as you might think and, above all, it is possible without the corresponding programs.

  1. The follower community increases quickly and not gradually.
    Take a look at the follower numbers. Fast rises and falls often indicate that trickery has taken place. Of course, there are also exceptions, but that is rather rarely the case.
  2. Followers follow, but don’t post.
    If followers of an account only follow all kinds of people, but do not post anything or hardly anything themselves, this almost always speaks for fake accounts whose services can be rented.
  3. The comments are short and very general.
    If only a “Wow!” Or exclusively smileys show up as comments, that’s a pretty clear indication that comments have been bought in here.
  4. Only likes and no comments.
    Also very suspicious are posts that have a lot of likes but few or no comments. It is important to pay attention to the distribution. Likewise with followers and likes. If you have many followers but few likes, you have a lot of fake followers.
  5. Short time period.
    If a large number of likes and comments are made within a few minutes, this also indicates purchased “likes”. Real Likes are usually spread over several hours or even days.

Related links

How the theory described here looks in reality is shown by two very exciting experiments, at WDR and at Motherboard.

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