Gaming YouTube

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 12:09 pm by George Smith

Previously I’ve written about gaming Google and YouTube. Google and its properties, along with social networking sites, have made an environment in which most value is accrued only by numbers of likes, views, inbound links and increasing numbers which allegedly measure legitimate followers and friends. With web search, this has instated a winner-take-all digital ecology in which there is always strong incentive to cheat, to purchase rigging.

So I discovered that about two weeks after I’d written the linked piece an anonymous account had ripped “GE and Jeff (Taxavoidination)” and uploaded it under their account.

Subsequently, the user — going under the name Mega Grilled Ham & Cheese, rigged its views.

Here are snapshots of the results.

The number of views were zero until, one day, they rocketed to a number far in excess of what the original copy was able to achieve through discovery, linkage and me pushing it.

Tapping the public web stats, it’s easy to see what was done.

All the views alias to Facebook. It’s quite clear this was an automated process, either using a network of dummy FB accounts or a maneuver in which YouTube sees thousands of scripted views, delivering with spoofing that makes them appear to originate from FB. Notice the small bulge for numbers from a “mobile device” directly above the Facebook statistic. While it may be coincidental, it sticks out just enough to give you the idea the dummy Facebook views were manipulated through misuse of a smartphone app (or a rogue app distributed for the purpose) and that YouTube’s data collection saw them as distinct, when they’re just part of the same process.

In recent weeks I’ve noticed one of the tactics for net comment spamming and numbers rigging is through automated processes which either utilize networks of dummy Facebook accounts or forgery which makes them appear as originating from real FB users who actually did not initiate the activity.

More recently, the latter has shown up as “likes” for Mitt Romney’s page on Facebook which, did not — in fact, come from actual account holders.

The latter — the hacked by Mitt Romney phenom — is attributed to conspiracy thinking among liberals with Facebook assigning it to mistakes made with mobile phone apps during web browsing.

Mother Jones discusses it here. Facebook, it informs has claimed the phenomenon is mass random user errors on smartphones. Whether or not this is actually true is uncertain.

The magazine concedes “The Obama camp is reportedly experiencing Facebook funny business too … On Tuesday, Buzzfeed noted the president’s page saw an odd spike in likes.”

This post, among many, at the blog of a system administrator in charge of corporate network security, puts forward the analysis that Facebook’s explanation is made up, something used as a smokescreen to hide the fraudulent manipulation of “likes” on the network while it tries to quietly clean up abuse and pay-for-likes operations. It is a compelling bit of reasoning.

In any case, it is baldly obvious the Facebook network can be used in web rigging schemes.

Other giveaways to Mega Grilled Ham & Cheese’s minor YouTube gaming include the observation that the large numbers of views come with zero or no likes and no comments — except one spam linking to some manner of other squirrelly web promotions site. You can, of course, also buy likes and comments, but they are extra work. In this case, it’s quite obviously a falsified operation, which is perhaps the point.

Other videos uploaded by Mega Grilled Ham & Cheese show similar patterns –someone interested in testing to what degree views and likes can be manipulated.

Whether YouTube’s anti-click fraud algorithms ever catch up with such abuse remains to be seen. Odds are the nature of the system created, and the way it makes a profit, rule against it.

Buy YouTube/Facebook/Twitter forgery.

Comments are closed.