Fakeness in all its glory; today’s most celebrated buzzword!

By moGossip Team Oct 13, 2020  

By Shivani Srivastava | Twitter handle - @Shivani72

Today’s business models and marketing, guess is all about TRPs… Likes… Followers- who cares how and from where it’s all garnered. There is a whole industry backed by techies and technology that is thriving on facilitating Fake Likes, Fake TRPs, Fake Following, and Fake engagements. 

Much thanks to the digital world –social media and technology!   Fake seems to be the buzzword of today’s time and era.  Cheq, a Cyber Security Firm study reveals that the epidemic of online fake news is costing the global economy $78 billion each year, and immense economic damage being inflicted on major sectors including politics, finance, advertising, eCommerce, media, and finance. Not to miss the hit on social ethos and business fabric. 

Fakeness and mindless bantering existed at all times, but the way it's today being celebrated and justified is worrisome and surely digital medium – the social platforms are playing their best in taking this business to further heights!   

The news a few months back of Mumbai Police having busted a global racket involving the creation of fake social media profiles and other fraudulent activities in the social media marketing business or the recent TRP scam reflects the kind of business and ‘intelligence’ with the help of technology, is at play.

The reports on how more than100 companies are selling fake social media followers and a number of PR agencies providing "fake" social media followers to Bollywood personalities and other "big people", which are then used for trolling or data theft is proof enough of the reality on ground of today's new age business dynamics. The SIT investigation in the same case, revealed that the accused was part of a larger international fraud racket, which involves creating crores of fake identities on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and other social media platforms and making fake performance statistics like fake comments, fake views, fake followers, fake likes etc. The recent SSRDeathcase, that showed the kind of business many of the TOP Talent Management and PR agencies are actually into, that of being the official drug facilitators for many of these idolized and glamourize Bollywood people – all this indicates the shallowness and shift in the reasons for setting a business or company...that of having a larger vision and mission for society at large than just being a money minting set up with no ethics or principles. Yet, we talk about SQ, today! 

The justification and cover up being given to many of these new age business models and practices is surely heading for dire consequences, in the times to come. The erosion of ‘realistic’ and ‘humane’ driven business and life mandates is impacting the universe and henceforth all of us.  

The steady rise of digital world –social media consumption especially with the sudden lockdown due to Covid19 pandemic and researches suggesting an average time today being spent on the Internet approx. 6H 42M  (July Global STATSHOT Report by HootSuite and We Are Social) 

and on Using Social Media: 2H 22M, reflects the global trend. However, if social chat platforms such as WhatsApp etc. are taken into account and other reports taken into consideration, it's for sure more than 3 hrs of time spent per day on social media in 2020, which is a steady rise from 90 minutes in 2012.  As social media consumption continues to grow influencing consumer choices, more brands talk about turning to digital marketing – influencer marketing with artificial intelligence coming in as a lever. 

The pandemic has resulted in most of the brands today upping their social media influencer marketing investments. As per certain research reports and journals, with an estimated 50% YoY increase in market size, the influencer marketing industry is all set to reach USD 10 billion, by the end of 2020.  However, as more and more social media users look to profit from influencer marketing, the rampant business of fake and  “buying” followers and likes to fake engagement and social proof is hitting the ecosystem and businesses - both big and small.

Cyber Security Firm, Cheq research talks about at least 15% of advertisers’ spending on influencer marketing getting lost to fraud, costing up to USD 1.3 billion annually. With engagement considered the key success metric for influencer campaigns, many influencers resort to apps that offer paid followers, likes and even comments for under a dollar. Such unethical practices make it increasingly tough for brands and SMEs to reap positive ROI from their influencer marketing spend.  Other than the loss in terms of ROI, the bigger calamity of such fake practices and businesses built on these models is the weakening of fundamentals of marketing or business ethos.  

Life and business for sure is not all black and white and there is a role of ‘grey’ but  balance is always the ‘need of the hour’!

Shivani Srivastava | Twitter handle - @Shivani72

The Author is Consultant - Marketing, PR & Corp Communication with MoMAGIC Technologies, leading Data Science driven AdTech and IOT firm based out of India. She is the Chief Communication Advisor to Vihara Foundation and author of Musings of the Lost Heart that has received heartwarming reviews on Amazon. She has set up the news and gossip platform www.mogossip.com and dabbles in theatre and writing as well.
Shivani is a B.Com Hons. from Banaras Hindu University and PGDBM from IFIM Bangalore, and carries more than two decades of experience and that includes, close to a decade at NASSCOM and brief stints with CareerNet Technologies, Indo-German Trade Development Consultancy, Rangashree Communications, Vishwaniketan, HNF etc.