Fake world – The era of ‘inversion’ arrives
By TruePublica: Last November a scam was uncovered in the USA. The US Justice Department unsealed indictments against eight people accused of fleecing advertisers of $36 million in one of the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered. But it should be noted that this is just one internet scam of thousands that have become so ubiquitous to our world, that a global tech giant described it as a point of inversion. That inversion has just arrived.
- YouTube algorithms for detecting bots overwhelmed and now confused with what is human activity
- The Internet is now about 50 per cent non-human activity
- Even artificial-intelligence personal assistants,” like Facebook’s “M,” to help tech companies appear to possess cutting-edge AI is fake.
- Fake images now routinely believed to be real, but ‘real’ images routinely believed to be fake in the wake of the Inversion
Intelligencer reported the indictments by saying that: “Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. Views, meanwhile, were faked by malware-infected computers with marvellously sophisticated techniques to imitate humans: bots “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers.” Some were sent to browse the internet to gather tracking cookies from other websites, just as a human visitor would have done through regular behaviour. Fake people with fake cookies and fake social-media accounts, fake-moving their fake cursors, fake-clicking on fake websites — the fraudsters had essentially created a simulacrum of the internet, where the only real things were the ads.”
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If the general public thought the internet was full of fake news, now the corporations themselves have become victims too. So, just how bad are things getting for individuals when corporations themselves are being conned and fleeced?
The Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people.”
This was so high that YouTube employees feared of having reached an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”
Today, the point of ‘inversion’ seems to have arrived and is no longer hypothetical.
Some studies suggest there are over three billion social media users in the world, many of whom maintain accounts on multiple platforms. The total number of social media accounts may be several times that, making the task of sorting out people from commercial, political, and general trolling accounts an almost impossible task.
The CEO of TwitterAudit says – “we’ve analyzed tens of millions of Twitter users over the past six years. We’ve tuned our algorithm to recognize bot patterns distinguish fake accounts from real accounts. Based on our data we would estimate that 40-60% of Twitter accounts represent real people. About 50% are not real then. Twitter says it’s half that.
It is known from various studies that less than 60 per cent of web traffic on the internet is human – the point of inversion has almost arrived here as well.
Now that we know about half of what we see on the internet is no longer human generated, the entire world is now becoming so fake we’re finding it hard to work out what is right or real. That the internet itself has now reached this ‘inversion’ point and there seems no way of going back should be concerning.
As we are all well aware by now this fake world is now badly affecting society. According to figures published last July, those seeking help for conditions such as depression and anxiety showed a sharp increase and was a third up on two years before that. Now, nearly ten per cent of the entire youth population of Britain suffers from serious mental health conditions and a third of 15-18 years olds suffer mental health problems. The problem is the fake world we live in.
Facebook, the world’s biggest personal data-gathering organisation got caught out in a court case recently by overstating how much time users were spending on its adverts by up to 900 per cent. Facebook admitted it was between 25 and 60 per cent. It’s not surprising advertisers were angry.
The Times also reported that you can buy 5,000 YouTube views (30 seconds of a video counts as a view) for as low as $15, making us the viewers think everyone else was watching it, so, therefore, you should too. That’s 41 hours of views for a few bucks. The people who paid that $15 are led to believe that the views they purchase come from real people but they come from bots. So no-one wins. Except the scammers of course.
On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations.
The Intelligencer report shows video of Chinese click farms with hundreds of mobile phones stacked in rows and desktop pc’s filling rooms with paid operators clicking away non-stop on content they are being paid to inflate. It’s really quite surreal, but that’s the ironic truth about it in the firat place.
However, nowhere I’ve come across so far does it get as stupid as this though:
“Not only do we have bots masquerading as humans and humans masquerading as other humans, but also sometimes humans masquerading as bots, pretending to be “artificial-intelligence personal assistants,” like Facebook’s “M,” in order to help tech companies appear to possess cutting-edge AI.”
Then there’s another scam just to confuse us further. The Atlantic reports that non-CGI human influencers are posting fake sponsored content — that is, content meant to look like content that is meant to look authentic, for free — to attract attention from brand reps, who, they hope, will pay them real money.
Again, Intelligencer reports that – “Earlier this year, the writer and artist Jenny Odell began to look into an Amazon reseller that had bought goods from other Amazon resellers and resold them, again on Amazon, at higher prices. Odell discovered an elaborate network of fake price-gouging and copyright-stealing businesses connected to the cultlike Evangelical church whose followers resurrected Newsweek in 2013 as a zombie search-engine-optimized spam farm. She also visited a strange bookstore operated by the resellers in San Francisco and found a stunted concrete reproduction of the dazzlingly phoney storefronts she’d encountered on Amazon, arranged haphazardly with best-selling books, plastic tchotchkes, and beauty products apparently bought from wholesalers. “At some point, I began to feel like I was in a dream,” she wrote. “Or that I was half-awake, unable to distinguish the virtual from the real, the local from the global, a product from a Photoshop image, the sincere from the insincere.”
And whilst many of us may have heard the term ‘deep-faking’ – even this has gone on another stage and is an invention that will further destroy what is left of reality or more importantly – trust. A recent academic paper from researchers at the graphics-card company Nvidia demonstrates a technique used to create images of computer-generated “human” faces that look shockingly like photographs of real people. Soon, you won’t be able to tell who is real at all.
What will happen is that ‘fake’ images will routinely be believed to be real, but ‘real’ images routinely believed to be fake — simply because, in the wake of the Inversion, who’ll be able to tell the difference?
The world’s biggest search engine itself has now inverted. Not only is a very large proportion of its traffic fake or non-human, but Google is also getting a reputation for being the worlds biggest censorship engine as well. It has recently confirmed it will start operations in China. That can only mean one thing. Censorship. So, if they are happy doing that in China why not at the behest of any other government.
Facebook has been found to have a meeting with just seven people every two weeks. Apparently, they decide what the narrative is and therefore what you will see through their algorithms. This is an organisation now fighting political fires with governments all over the world. It has lost complete control of itself.
At TruePublica our Facebook and Twitter pages rapidly grew to about 2,500. Then miraculously they stopped growing. We gain about 15 new likes a week and lose about 14 a week on each platform – every week. That is unless we pay to unlock the algorithm and allow more people to join us. Which we don’t.
Democracy has been inverted too. It has become corrupted by those with grossly outsized influence of narrow interests at the expense of everyone else. Less than a quarter of people believe that politicians work in the best interests of the nation in Britain and America. In Britain, it reached just 17 per cent in 2017 and still heading south. Voters have been so frustrated with their own lack of influence over political decisions made in their name that the public in Britain voted against the status quo. They did the same in America, Italy, Austria and other European countries. Now we have Brexit, Trump and the rise of the far right-wing all over the Western world. Social democracy is being unstitched by data-mining systems and shady companies like Cambridge Analytica. Social media, videos, memes, political campaigns using known military applications are being used on civilian populations – all these accusations are true – the information they delivered was not.
After a few years of these new manipulative social media systems that rely on dopamine driven loops, somehow, being fake online is better than being real. It’s depressing looking at social media or the internet today because about half, probably more, of the content is about misrepresentation and distortion, not the truth or reality.
In the Western world, the younger generations prefer to live as fake people in a fake world, with fake ‘friends’ accepting fake clicks and views as some sort of online proof of their existence. The internet creates a place where people use masks to disguise who they are and it is dangerous; they don’t merely hide but transform who they really are into something else. They become little more than who they wish to impersonate.
The authenticity of the world we live in is rapidly disappearing – the tipping point is here, right now. In reality, it is about staying true to what you believe, not about the image you want to project. This is how we form our closest personal relationships in real life and they are being dramatically eroded in favour of the phoney.
Not even the corporations who brought this fake world in the first place can work out who is fake any more and are now searching for ways to reach real people. Perhaps it is time for everyone else to do the same.