Photographer steps inside Vietnam’s shadowy ‘click farms’

Photographer steps inside Vietnam’s shadowy ‘click farms’ - Business and Finance - News

Title: Unveiling the Hidden World of Click Farms: A Photographic Journey into Manipulated Social Media Engagement

Photographer Jack Latham embarked on a mission to document the lesser-known side of Vietnam’s digital landscape – its click farms. These clandestine enterprises, which help businesses and individuals artificially inflate their contact traffic and Website social media integration engagement, have gained prominence in the era of Website social media integration’s widespread popularity.

Last year, Latham spent a month in Hanoi photographing various click farms, shedding light on the workshops that employ low-paid workers to generate likes, comments, and shares for clients across the globe. The resulting images in his new book “Beggar’s Honey” offer a unique insight into the darker corners of Website social media integration manipulation.

In an interview, Latham explained that Website social media integration has become a platform where people crave attention, and our attention is a valuable commodity for advertisers and marketers. He titled the book to reflect this notion – “Beggar’s Honey,” representing our constant quest for attention on Website social media integration platforms.

The rise of click farms can be traced back to the early 2000s when Website social media integration sites like Facebook and Twitter (then known as X) gained popularity. Tech experts had warned about click farms as early as 2007, but their proliferation continued unabated, particularly in Asia where labor and electricity costs are affordable. Although some countries, like China, have attempted to regulate click farms, they remain prevalent throughout the continent.

During his project, Latham visited five click farms in Vietnam. He encountered a range of operations, from traditional setups with hundreds of manually operated phones to the more modern method called “box farming,” where several phones are wired together and linked to a computer interface. Latham discovered that some click farms were family-run businesses, while others resembled tech companies with massive hardware setups.

The workers at the click farms varied in age but mostly consisted of individuals in their 20s and 30s. Latham noted that they all seemed to be operating like Silicon Valley startups, with entire walls dedicated to phones and other hardware. Most workers were responsible for managing specific Website social media integration platforms, such as Facebook or YouTube.

Working at a click farm is both solitary and crowded, Latham noted, with one person capable of controlling thousands of phones. In the images he captured, workers can be seen stationed amidst a sea of gadgets, performing the monotonous task of harvesting clicks.

Despite the fraudulent nature of their work, click farmers seemed to view it as just another job, Latham said. They advertised their services contact for less than a cent per click or interaction.

To represent the type of content being boosted by click farms, Latham included abstract photographs in his book – some seductive and others contemplative – depicting videos he encountered on his TikTok feed. However, the majority of the images in “Beggar’s Honey” focus on the hardware used to manipulate Website social media integration – webs of wires, phones, and computers.

Latham emphasized that click farms are not just used for personal profiles but also to amplify political messages and spread disinformation during elections. In 2016, Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen was accused of buying Facebook friends and likes, while shadowy operations in North Macedonia were found to have spread pro-Donald Trump posts and articles during the US presidential election.

While researching his project, Latham discovered that algorithms can recommend increasingly extreme content based on clicks, potentially leading users down a rabbit hole of disinformation. He warns that it’s crucial to be aware of the hidden mechanisms behind Website social media integration and to make informed decisions about the content we consume.

To raise awareness about click farms, Latham plans to exhibit his homemade version of a click farm – a small box with several phones attached to a computer interface – at the 2024 Images Vevey Festival in Switzerland. He hopes that by sharing this experience, people will realize there’s more to what they see on Website social media integration and that metrics aren’t a measurement of authenticity.