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This week I wrote a column about the increasing, all-consuming fakeness of the internet
How Much of the Internet Is Fake?
Turns out, a lot of it, actually.
80 replies and sub-replies as of Dec 27 2018

i didn't really get into it in the piece but i think one reason the internet is 'made' for fraud is that it is itself a kind of fraud -- a 'revoutionary disruption' that has bolstered existing power arrangements, an 'economic engine' with no visible economic benefit
The numbers are all fking fake, the metrics are bullshit, the agencies responsible for enforcing good practices are knowing bullshiters enforcing and profiting off all the fake numbers and none of the models make sense at scale of actual human users.…
Ill never look at a Kardashian the same again....
See: Debord and Baudrillard
Glad you focused on this, there are so many scams involved and it certainly involves tricking investors
It's a little bit as if Baudrillard and Debord were actually describing real things that just didn't quite exist yet.
The internet is made for fraud because it severs the connection between claims and identity.
Hi Max, nice article. The key problem is the #DMCA #SafeHarbor law. This law that lowered the barrier of publication to zero. It was designed so they could build #SurveillanceValley. Without this law, companies like Twitter would be liable for what YOU submit. @EndOfSafeHarbor
We need to end this law(which is virtually worldwide due to WIPO) and make the domain owners liable for what appears on their domain. This will probably out Facebook and Twitter out of business which is why they suppress these ideas. @EndOfSafeHarbor #SafeHarbor #dmca
So basically, Joshua, you're saying end Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, basically... the whole internet. I'm not exaggerating, I'm honestly unsure how you'd expect the internet to actually function without SafeHarbor.
It has always seemed meaningful to me that the original money was defense money- a kind of latent lethality baked in...
Old enough to remember the internet b4 the www. And early days of the web, before commercial interests took over. It’s the web, and its monetization, where so many of the problems reside.
This is fascinating, and not just in the abstract, cultural paranoia way we currently talk about Fake News. There’s a real possibility that the entire value proposition of the Internet is wildly overstated. We could be looking at the flashpoint for the next great economic crisis.
MAX READ: the Internet is fake now. my head swims. please click my article BAUDRILLARD: you are like a little baby, too me
The only two interactions left in the world, are RTs and favs
This is the decade of hyperreality. Would love to read a history of the '10s as such.
Brilliant. I have an article coming out in the journal Television & New Media about the epic ruse being perpetrated on advertisers by the platforms. Wish I could have cited this piece.
Max, welcome to my Ted Talk
If you want an actually good prediction for what the advertiser-supported media model will lead to, in a decade we'll basically have two different Internets; a good subscription-based one for professionals and the Internet of Shit for everyone else
That is already the model for news.
An inevitable result stemming from the ubiquitous use of an unregulated product that only a small fraction of the public understands how actually works.
Excellent. It's time we put REGULATIONs around bots. This is tearing the trust between humans and machines. Singularity is a bubble at this point.
streaming stats and the music industry’s (over)reliance on them make me think about this a lot
Metrics lie. Been trying to explain this to day job teams this for a long time.
This is really fascinating and excellent!
Max this is so good
Honestly, you need only look right here at twitter's "analytics" page. The kind of blatantly made up moon bullshit that would make a snake oil hawker weep with envy
Oh, are they putting my partners' orgasms online?
Twitter is constantly locking my account for "automated activity" which I do not engage in.
Good article, thanks.
Web pages are fake. Likely 90% exist to play some kind of SEO game; the rules of Google drive why content is made and repeated and linked. Zillions of pages do not exist for people but to please the SERP gods and even more words are stilted towards them.
And I'm hoping you made it all up.
To my grave, forever ignored, I'll still be shouting into the void that pay-per-click advertising was the worst decision the internet ever made, and is the primary factor in making the web terrible.
very cool
so much info, so little truth. weird reversal on the dream of the enlightenment
there is a breaking point. as you said, everything is fake but the money. but if everything is fake, then why is so much real money being spent on it? advertisers & investors spending big $ on fake stuff happens for a while - but ends eventually. just like in 2000 and 2008
the internet of 2018 is built on advertisers and investors plowing large amounts of money into things with dubious or outright fraudulent returns. and they can afford to keep doing that for quite a while. but that's just dot-com bubble 2.0. what will happen when it pops?
I, a nubile Japanese catgirl, found this quite interesting and informative. *giggles coquettishly*
Everyone is a bot except you.
Great read, thanks.
Facebook removed 'Most Popular City' from the 'About' section of all Facebook Pages last year? It passed without comment. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact most large Pages continually reported Dhaka, Jakarta, or New Delhi as the source of the most 'engagement'.
great piece. another aspect i think about is how much actual *fiction* we consume and how it subtly warps peoples' brains over time, training them to look for clues and to expect secret plots everywhere
totally -- and it can be especially jarring since so much of the 'fakeness' you encounter online doesn't really follow the narrative logic of fiction, but some occult capital/machine logic
yeah in a fictional story if you open with the premise that guys india have 5000 smartphones running in unison the expectation is it's going to be an AI or a SETI thing or they're working for a supervillain, but no they're just scamming ad buys for a penny per phone an hour
you have to bring your own Black Lodge-like magical realism mythology to make any of it make narrative sense
yr really kicking ass lately, Max
Yep! Refusal to take verifiable #Identity seriously has led to a system that compromises #privacy (implicitly). In addition, there is an additional problem of false usage and profile data metrics (users, monthly active users, etc). #SolidHelps #RWW #AdTech #WebID #Internet
Hyper-reality, baby!
Meh. "A child is a fake adult." True that there is an I'm balance of fake. However, the net is breast feeding.
I guess you missed that blaring out at you a decade ago when you though it could serve your needs.
coming from someone calling themselves "Max Read"
Will blockchain save us
Fantastic read, thanks!
I suspect that all those sponsored links by Taboola sites at the bottom of your story are fake, too. Circular, self generated advertising.
This article was fantastic. I even went to the trouble of finding YOUR site vs. tipping NY Mag...either way.. here you go...
Read this and shuddered many times.
I quit working in media this year for a lot of reasons, but this article covers a bunch of them. Having worked both at FB and a "trustworthy" publisher, I agree that metrics are bullshit top to bottom.
I worked at an online car shopping traffic aggregator for a while. The entire business model was fake metrics. We basically were reselling car salesmen their own analytics back to them. A national insurance company acquired the company shortly after I was terminated
lol you show your age because the internets ALWAYSSSSSS been fake lol
Excellent read.
Jean Baudrilard argued we’d already passd the point of no return, from reality into a simulacra of reality, by the late 1980s. He was very cynical but it’s hard to argue more than 30 years later that he was wrong.
Replying to this in a feeble attempt at exculpation.
But how do I know this article isn’t fake?
I highly recommend Jaron Lanier's 2013 book "who owns the future?" Best of breed ( and one if first) on this topic.
Great article. A lot of the Internet is graffiti, blogs and hearsay. My pet peeve is the number of marketers/middlemen that come up in a search for primary businesses.
Because, apparently, somewhere in the last few years we lost sight of the basic maxim that everything online is suspect until verified? Sock puppets have been with us the whole time. Sock puppets enhance social networking metrics & thus profits. Has always been thus.
but you liked it five years ago
Magnificent piece. As the late Prince said back in 2011, “the Internet is over.”
and we can't avoid fake people and juked viral trends by anon networks no matter how we try to control who we follow and what we read or promote because everyone is being subjected to addicting algorithms.