How much of what we see on the web is real? How much are our perceptions being skewed, engineered and out right manipulated? To some degree I believe we’re all guilty of social engineering a specific image that we’d like to portray on the web and especially on social media platforms like Facebook. We specifically share those status updates, photos and content that paint us in the way that we would like to be seen. Is it so surprising then that it’s possible to buy real Facebook fans? When viewing a fan page of a celebrity, icon or artist do you ever wonder if every single one of those ‘fans’ that are posting right now on their wall are actually, well, real? It’s shocking to think that some of those profiles might be cleverly scripted automated bots that engage with content in order to make it appear as if they are more popular than they are. The bot might even be specifically tasked to bring attention to certain posts and content being shared.
It’s not so different from the concept of a shill or the buying of grievers for a funeral. News studios will go as far as to fill in crowds of people during live broadcasts with digitally cloned individuals in order to make an event seem more news worthy than it actually is. This is our reality right here, right now and the entirety of it is suspect. We can no longer simply trust what we see with our eyes nor should we be quick to make any judgements based on it. When we ourselves curate our lives for other people online on such a small scale, imagine what is possible with the money and the need to earn a profit. It’s staggering to realize how much is actually being engineered around us right now.