I’ve long been fascinated with the business of manufactured popularity, in which various forms of sock puppetry are used to make a person or product seem much more popular than it actually is. It’s amazingly easy to do on the Internet – just create a half-dozen free email accounts, build them into a half-dozen social media profiles, and write six glowing reviews from ostensibly different people for your product on Amazon. There are paid professionals who specialize in selling five-star product reviews, or pumping out zillions of phony Twitter accounts to provide paying customers with an instant million “followers.”
I presume this tactic is at least somewhat effective, because people keep putting time and money into it, even after exposes showing that much of this manufactured popularity is fake. At this point, every reasonably savvy social-media user must know that Twitter and Facebook followings are often artificially inflated, especially by politicians… but the inflation continues. At this point, it’s probably viewed as a defensive expense by some campaign staffers – you can’t afford to be the only candidate that didn’t shell out a few thousand bucks to purchase a virtual mob of phony Twitter fans.
The Washington Times discovered this sort of trickery was being practiced at the official ObamaCare Facebook page:
Sixty percent of the site’s 226,838 comments generated from September 2012 to early last month can be attributed to fewer than 100 unique profiles, according to an analysis completed by The Washington Times with assistance from an outside data analytics team. Many of those profiles belong to just one person who created multiple aliases or personas to widen her influence and multiply her voice.
Cindi Huynh, an Obamacare supporter in California, posted on average 59 times a day on the site in 60 days, making her the No. 1 poster in that period. She posted only during work hours — as is the trend of the top 25 posters on the site — and never on weekends.
Over the past two years, Ms. Huynh has been a prolific poster — ranking twice in the top 25 profiles contributing to the site — once under the name “Cindi Huynh” and again as “Cyndi Huynh Vellucci.”
Ms. Huynh has had at least four Facebook profiles, she confirmed.
Ms. Huynh told The Times that she has never been paid for her posts but has volunteered for the California Democratic Party and was approached to become an Obamacare patient advocate. She said she was too busy to contribute in that way and felt she could better spread the message online. She has a full-time job but has declined to name her employer.
Several other ObamaCare sockpuppeteers decided to shut down their accounts and skedaddle when they learned the Washington Times was conducting this survey. The site’s owners – that totally non-partisan non-profit group called Organizing for Action that in no way merited anything resembling the treatment given to Tea Party and pro-life groups by the IRS – didn’t wan’t to discuss the situation, or the fact that half of President Obama’s Twitter followers appear to be fake.