Likes, followers, shares and comments can be bought. Quite legally and often with just a few clicks. " The trade with the digital good is also called " like economy " and it extends across the whole globe. Prof. Dr. Patrick Vonderau and his team are conducting research in various countries in order to draw a first picture of this economic phenomenon.
The most important finding so far is that the industry has little to do with the image of the "click farms" - digital sweatshops in low-wage countries of the global South - transported by the media. There is no such thing as a huge, illegal shadow economy. Work in the like economy is professionally organised and usually legal. It is more like online marketing than exploitative structures and Internet fraud.
Nevertheless, the trade with likes and followers is not without problems. The legal status of it has not yet been fully clarified. The influence it has on possible political power relations must also be researched in more detail.
Prof. Dr. Patrick Vonderau is Professor at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Prof. Vonderau came to the Leibniz Institute for Media Research for a lecture and then spontaneously agreed to talk about his current research with Johanna Sebauer in this episode of the BredowCast.
Typical Coverage of Click-Farming
Research Project of Prof. Dr. Patrick Vonderau