Reshare This if You Love Your Mother!
I know that today is not Mother’s Day. I love my mother every day though. Do you? In case you love your mother reshare this!
Now, who will say “no” and refrain from resharing? Many people will feel compelled to do so. After all who doesn’t love her/his mother?
I will show you a few little social engineering tricks that pretty much everybody and their mom is using out there on social media.
In SEO we had the ever-present dark side of black hat SEO but what many overlook is the downright manipulation of people within social media.
Indeed social media by itself is a kind of manipulation where corporations earn money by making you create content for them for free and monetize your relationships. That’s a longer article though.
This time I just want to explain the few simple methods people use to make you share their updates or vote them up artificially.
I’ll use Google+ to show that but it’s even more common on more popular sites like Facebook or Tumblr.
Reshare This if You Love …
Social Media is about identity. Whether you have to disclose your name and address like on Facebook or are able to create a virtual identity like on Tumblr it’s about who you are most of time. You are what say and what you share.
Online you are always alone and just connected to people who are elsewhere on the globe.
That’s why you see everybody staring at their mobile these days while fewer people talk to or even look at each other in real life.
You create a connection by saying and sharing things others like. In case they don’t you end up ignored or being a troll.
Things we all can relate to are easier to share. That’s why cute images of cats and other pets rule the Web.
Everybody can relate to that. Facebook is also full of baby photos but that’s not as simple anymore. People who can’t have kids for example my be pout off. Others may not want to look at strangers’ kids.
Click “+1” to Vote
Usually a social media vote equals appreciation. That’s the case for sure with the “+1! by Google or the !like! by Facebook. What about the people who do not like something though?
Don’t forget those undecided, unable or unwilling to choose whether they like something or not. How to make them vote? Well give them the fitting options.
Of course you need something that is not really important but almost everybody by now will have an opinion on it.
The more opinionated the better. For example you could make them choose between three common operating system options by asking “what is the best OS?”
Social sites will of course count all these votes as genuine engagement, it even is to some extent, you din’t pay anyone to vote!
Click “like” to Win!
You have seen plenty of those sweepstakes on Facebook. Click “like” to win an iPhone or something.
Google+ doesn’t allow contests ion their TOS so I can’t show you an actual example here but you know what I mean.
Even scammers have used this “click to win” technique by setting up fake Facebook pages.
They would post something like click “like” to get a 100$ coupons and 50k people would do it without even looking closely at the page they did it on! In some cases those who clicked downloaded some malware.
Of course the likelihood to click and really win is minuscule. It’s far too easy to click so that far too many people will do it and the few items that get given away will be given to a tiny fraction of those who clicked if at all.
At the same time all the people clicked the “+! or “like” as if the y truly appreciate it. Now that’s a big win for the manipulative person or company.
We’re still in the early stages of social media so that kind of inflated popularity doesn’t get really discounted.
Real Social Media Manipulation
There are of course more advanced techniques of manipulating social media audiences at large. I don’t endorse them. Your government does manipulate social media though.
The US military has a whole social media division and uses fake accounts dedicated to spread news and rumors about America’s enemies.
That’s why you read so many awful stories about Iran despite our ally Saudi Arabia being much worse. Such manipulative efforts are far harder to spot though.
Also people are so used to view the bad news about Iran that they tend to vilify the country by themselves.
Remember that Iran for example is a democracy while in Saudi Arabia an absolutist king is reigning with an iron fist.
Just recently Saudi Arabia’s army has destroyed the democracy movement in the neighbouring Bahrain.
Instead the main news for a year has been the civil war in Syria where rebels” supported by the US and the EU are fighting the Syrian government, an Iranian ally.
This post is not about politics though. Neither Syria nor Iran are perfect. I know that. Isn’t it strange how much worse offenders who are “our rogues” get away with murder while our enemies end up in the spotlight all the time?
Meanwhile I guess you still love your mother, so please reshare this!
Last updated: September 14th, 2017.