Social media is a scam. Who knew?

Davey Alba reports in the New York Times:

[…The] report also brings renewed attention to an often overlooked vulnerability for internet platforms: companies that sell clicks, likes and comments on social media networks. Many of the companies are in Russia, according to the researchers. Because the social networks’ software ranks posts in part by the amount of engagement they generate, the paid activity can lead to more prominent positions.

No kidding that engagement is fake. Paying for fake “Likes” is the same kind of thing as paying for fake clicks, which is a scam performed to goose online ad revenue.

Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, a department at Oxford University, said easy social media manipulation could have implications for European elections this year and the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

“Fake engagement — whether generated by automated or real accounts — can skew the perceived popularity of a candidate or issue,” Ms. Bradshaw said. “If these strategies are used to amplify disinformation, conspiracy and intolerance, social media could exacerbate the polarization and distrust that exist within society.”

Of course, paying to amplify a message will, indeed, amplify it, even if that message is false or destructive to the fabric of society. It’s too bad that social media is so addictive. It is cause so many problems.