The business of Fame & Defame on Social Media     

In Tehelka’s previous issue we exposed how ‘Nata Pratha’, an old tribal custom was still being misused as an alibi for a no fringe Live-in Relationship in some states leaving women and the children born out of this arrangement in dire straits with practically no rights.

In the current issue of Tehelka our spotlight is on an equally important issue as to how celebrities and social media influencers buy views or followers on various platforms to get noticed and clinch brand endorsements. In today’s world, we turn to search engines for information and most questions. This is where the new age business of fame and defame on social media comes into vogue and with this comes the concept of SEO—the practice of optimizing your content to appear easily findable and higher in the search results.  In majority of cases, the search engine optimization using questionable tools is through inorganic (paid) searches to improve rankings unethically.

Tehelka posing as potential clients carried out an investigation to unearth the truth and came out with startling revelations. It found that there are consultancy companies that claim to provide followers, fake reviews, views, likes and comments on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for predetermined amounts. For our readers, we provide in our Cover Story, the transcript of the conversation our Special Investigation Team had with such consultancy companies to nail the business of falsehood.

Search engines use robots that crawl web pages across the internet to determine what content they contain and the bots scan the code, picking up the written text, images, videos and more that appear on web pages to gather information. Once information is made available on each page and determined that this content will be useful to their searchers, they add these pages to their index for potential searchers. When someone searches, their algorithm matches the user’s search query to the relevant information in their index. In the process, the social media platforms use signals to ‘manage’ the order in which the content will appear for each searcher. Both on-page and off-page SEO are used in driving traffic to the site(s).

Ironically, buying likes, followers and views for social media accounts is simple. Just look for “buy followers India” in Google search and a plethora of sites involved in this business pop up.  Once you are able to create FOMO, or “fear of missing out” by creating fake buzz about a song, a movie, a product, a celebrity, you are on your target. Likewise you can create a negative opinion about all these through social media platforms. Of late, even political parties and their leaders are using these strategies to fame or defame. Per se there is no legal provision that directly prohibits or prosecutes such an act and the result is that the business of fame and defame is flourishing. That calls for legislation to deal with online falsehood and manipulation.