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Perception is an interesting thing these days on the grand ole Internet.  People are measuring each other more and more on unverifiable items of importance.  This trend is only becoming more and more alarming.  The first indication of this importance rush began in the mid-2000s when MySpace and Facebook intrigued their members to be more social by adding friends.  This started the “friend rush” for individuals around the world to gauge themselves against their friends on these “significant” numbers.  At first these numbers were in the hundreds…then the celebrities arrived.

Enter Ashton Kutcher, famous for several things, but you might not know that he raced CNN to 1Million followers on Twitter.  He even won the race to enroll these followers (and donated $100K to the Malaria No More Fund).  But what this started was a massive drive by the average individual to obtain the same popularity as celebrities.  This boils down to is a simple numbers game.  The argument goes that the more Facebook Friends, Twitter Followers, Google Plus Ones, and Pinterest Repins a person has the more influential the individual has become. But this argument has been negated by technology and the inability to verify the individuals being influenced.

The most basic and easy way to muddle into this pay for popularity environment can be seen if you visit Fiverr.  While there are plenty of decent items available for $5 on Fiverr the social marketing for sale by its users demonstrates an alarming trend.  Under the area of Online Marketing Gigs you can find individuals willing to provide you for a mere $5 pretty much any variants of Facebook Likes, Twitter Tweets, Education Domain Backlinks, Pinterest Repins, and other social link juice from this major portion of Web 2.0.  Similarly if an individual is looking to spend a bit more ($25) there is a very similar social fare available from Goferr.  While there are individuals who have built real networks of vast followers and social networks for the most part you will not find them offering their services on Fiver or Goferr.  Both sites’ providers offer “gigs” that are mostly fulfilled by groomed networks of bots and automated tools which provide the gig promised social “likes” and “followers.”

But really none of this matters if you don’t care about social media right?  Unfortunately that isn’t the case with the ability to buy likes, buy followers, buy repins, etc.  Take a look at Bing’s new interface which provides a heavy dose of Social Media interaction.  If you’ve been using any form of search engine then these backlinks and social media’s influence is changing what you see in those search engine results you so freely take as truth.  Unless you can tell me the changes you noticed in Google’s Panda and Penguin then you’re not watching closely enough to know how you’ve been affected by this Search Engine Exploitation (SEE) Optimization (SEO).

Update(3SEP2012):  It is getting so bad that Facebook Security is even taking action to clean up and bring itself back toward “reality” – via MacWorld.

Still not convinced?  It only takes $5 to start figuring it out for yourself!

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