“One of the elements that are leading the debate on what happens in social networks and the impact it has on consumers and their decisions in recent times is the problem of misinformation. Social networks have become the nest of false news and the activity of trolls and spammers who have uplifted and viralized certain issues and have managed to change the agenda.”
The interference of the Russian trolls has been felt in the US elections and has changed how political marketing is done, since it has had to take into account how they act and what impact they have. But even the fake news, as a Buzzfeed investigation had shown, was sometimes simply a way to make cash with online advertising: those issues had a pull and were published only to have page views and serve loads of ads. A village in Macedonia was doing the August with it.
The performance of spammers and trolls who used fake news, misinformation and the power of echo cameras was becoming a serious problem in political terms. For companies, it was seen as a possible problem in terms of image, since nothing prevented these trolls from circulating stories about them and having the same effect.
The problem was seen as a risk in reputation and as a problem that could modify the public image of the companies and the perception that consumers had about it. Spammers could turn brands into mere protagonists of fake news.
However, the risk for companies goes much further and could directly affect their income. The false news, the trolls and the accounts that call to deceit could be the platform to make cash, the way forward to confuse consumers and sell illegitimately.
Fake news to sell
It’s not exactly something new. The Internet is already full of counterfeit products that consumers buy not a few times not knowing that what they are buying is not exactly the product of the brand. They are carried away by the price and the pull of an offer, although if you look at the fine print you can see that it is not the brand in question. What happens – and what could change things a lot and become a more dangerous risk for companies – is that now spammers are using the techniques of fake news and misinformation to impersonate legitimate brands and legitimate companies. and make a box with it.
Basically, they are creating a climate in which it seems that they are the company in question – the essence of what happened with the fake news – so that the consumer thinks he is buying from a legitimate company or organization. Actually, they are buying someone who is just taking advantage of the pull.
That’s what one research has just shown: Bangladeshi vendors are employing the mechanisms of fake news and the trolls that propagated them on Facebook to sell – through Facebook as well – t-shirts. They are using the 2019 Women’s March, the March of the Women of 2019, to position themselves before the users of the social network as part of the organization of the same and sell T-shirts. In total, there were 1,700 fake pages operating with this premise and making cash with it.
They use the tactics of the Russian trolls
Spammers used the same techniques as trolls that spread misinformation, segmenting audiences by niches, sending highly segmented invitations and advertising and taking advantage of the growing tendency to support causes on social networks. It was the same modus operandi as the Russian trolls, but instead of creating political instability they just wanted to make money with it.
And, in addition, they could be just a sample of what could come. As they point out in the conclusions of the investigation that uncovered this situation, made by CNN, you can track Facebook or LinkedIn to Bangladesh freelances who work to take advantage of peaks of interest in specific issues to sell, using the segmentation on Facebook and its advertising.