Thanks to the rise of social media, terms like bot farms, click farms and click fraud that didn’t exist a few years ago are now being used on an almost daily basis by companies who are trying to compete in the digital marketplace.
But what are bot farms, how can a click be considered fraud, and why are so many companies resorting to using shady click farms to succeed in business? These are some of the questions we hope to answer in this article.
What Are Bot Farms?
According to click fraud experts ClickGUARD, bot farms, also called click bots, can be described as a piece of software, script, or malware that is used to generate clicks automatically through the creation of fake IP addresses and web sessions.
In basic terms, bot farms are systems or “farms” consisting of click bots that are used to generate internet traffic and clicks, create backlinks, share news articles, and more to affect the algorithms of social media sites and other platforms.
Companies like ClickGUARD help businesses identify and block these kinds of worthless clicks on their ad campaigns to give them a more accurate picture of the popularity of their content and maximize their Google Ads ROI.
What Are Bot Farms Used For?
One of the most popular uses of bot farms is the manipulation of the rankings of apps on app stores such as the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store and to increase an app’s positive reviews and rating score.
Another popular use of bot farms is to influence social media rankings, particularly on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, where bot farms and click farms can affect the algorithm to increase a poster’s visibility on the platform in a practice that has been called click fraud.
Bot farms, in particular social bots, have also been shown to have been used as political weapons during past elections in the US where social media manipulation was used to steer the mood during the election campaign.
According to figures released by internet security specialists boxcryptor, during the 2016 election TV debates almost 4 million tweets, or one-fifth of all tweets on that topic, were posted not by real people, but by automated accounts. Looking at those tweets, it was found at 80% of the fake tweets could be interpreted as being pro-Trump, which gave voters a false idea of which candidate was more popular among American citizens.
Why Are Bot Farms So Popular?
The popularity and influence of social media is the main reason that bot farms have become increasingly more popular. Bot farms can be used to create a false impression of popularity that users can leverage off of to increase their actual social media following, influence sponsorship deals and sales, and more.
This demand for more visibility and attention has been called the “popularity principle” with the underlying idea behind the principle being that the more contacts a person or brand has, the more people will want to connect with them and thus the more valuable that person or brand is.
Bot farms have increasingly become big business thanks to the influence social media has on people’s lives, including their spending habits. Most businesses now understand that they can use social media to generate sales and grow their business, which has resulted in many businesses turning to bot farms to boost the visibility of their business on social media platforms and thus improve their bottom line.
Are Bot Farms Legal?
While bot farms may have been linked to nefarious deeds in the past, the truth is that there are few laws and regulations in place to govern bot farming and the practice, although frowned upon, is not illegal. This means that social media platforms and search engines that are most often the target of bot farms have been forced to create their own set of rules regarding the practice of click farming as well as how they deal with offenders.
While there is no easy way to deal with bot farms, there are measures that businesses can take to protect themselves from the negative effect of bot farms. Many online companies specialize in identifying bot farms and combating the negative effects of false clicks that businesses can use to protect their business and maximize the ROI on their ad campaigns.