JAPAN: Who Needs Real “Likes” When You Have Cash?

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – Can you call yourself popular when most of your fans are fake?

As more businesses and politicians are seeking attention via social media, services selling Facebook “Likes” and Twitter followers are appearing. The Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan’s leading dailies, interviewed one purveyor of Internet fame, a 28-year-old Osakan man. According to the paper, he offers two bundles, 5,000 “Likes” for 37,980 yen and 5,000 followers for 29,980. Orders are then fulfilled by a U.S. company with access to “fake accounts” which become the client’s latest “fans.” When asked whether this was misleading the man said, “Maybe. But it’s not illegal.” Some would disagree.

A representative from Twitter Japan’s PR responded to the issue saying, “”Buying and selling followers goes against our policy. We check for it, but it is a game of cat and mouse, where even if we toughen the rules, businesses continue looking for new loopholes.” For now, their efforts are indeed futile and the sales will continue.

The effect of said sales were present during July’s Upper House Elections. One candidate, Zenjiro Kaneko, had Twitter and Facebook accounts whose followers and “Likes” were predominantly foreign. What lasting impact this may have on the nation’s political realm is uncertain, as the previous campaign’s social media angle was a flop.  (see, below, the article JAPAN: Abe But No Lincoln)

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