How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared 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.”


The cognitive dissonance at the center of the internet is the disconnect between "information wants to be free" and "workers want to be paid". The model adopted early and often was "run ads" because "run ads" was the American model of first radio and then television.

Radio and television, however, are synchronous and linear. The internet is asynchronous and non-linear. What became relatively easy to measure and monetize - "pay $500,000 and your thirty-second commercial will play for 6 million people five times a day for a week" - became code injected into open markup that could be bypassed by anyone reasonably savvy. the monetization schedule became precipitously complex and easy to game in uncountable ways.

There is no Nielsen Ratings for online advertising. There are various traffic rankers that use various methodologies but it all comes down to fishing with algorithms. Algorithmic warfare is the end result. Thus, clickfarms use bootleg code to trick ratings algorithms into inflating view numbers so that the "information wants to be free" crowd can gouge the advertisers they'd rather avoid entirely. The arms race spirals out of control, absent all humans.

This happened to "yellow journalism" where the sensationalist broadsheets of Hearst and Pulitzer were eventually bypassed entirely by the subscription-model New York Times. Within ten years there were no direct sale newspapers left; a subscription model became the fundamental basis of journalism. Civil libertarians decried Apple's move to the "walled garden" of its app store but if nothing else, Apple has an easier time of curation than Google. Meanwhile all the internet giants are moving their traffic into apps - Facebook has an app. Netflix has an app. Pinterest has an app. Snapchat has an app. Google is embeddable anywhere and it is an algorithmic hellhole of bizarre clickbait.

It's probably about time for some genius to loft the idea of micropayments as if he's the first one to think of them (again). And then eight companies will try it, they'll all go under and we'll get right back to bots yelling at each other for clicks.

posted by KapteinB: 172 days ago