Ad fraud researcher Augustine Fou told me via email that Ashley Madison’s scam represents a new horizon in online fraud. For years, scammers have used bots to create bogus clicks on online ads, allowing them to charge advertisers for impressions that came from fake people. As a result, Fou has advised advertisers to optimize for “conversions,” people who actually buy the product based on ads. But now, he says, the Ashley Madison case shows that “even conversions can be fraudulently created, with the action of sophisticated bots.
The Ashley Madison con may have played on some of our most ancient desires, but it also gives us a window on what’s to come. What you see on social media isn’t always what it seems.* Your friends may be bots, and you could be sharing your most intimate fantasies with hundreds of lines of PHP code.
Commentary: This is the third installment, see 1st here & 2nd here, and at this point Annalee Newitz deserves a Pulitizer for her reporting! This just gets stranger & more twisted with each delve into the data. This time, was glad they pointed out the bot use in display advertising, and believe me it isn’t being reported but Social Games & Apps are also filled with exactly the same types of behavior. They might not be at the level of devious deception as Ashley Madison execs, but they are all about making sure their numbers and revenue grows. They are not below stooping to inflate the numbers that they report on. In fact in further research done after reading these the business magazines like Forbes with their Press Release/PR Department “profiles” on the now departed CEO as early as April of this year and they all read like snake-oil salesman pitches not that far off from any tech start-up. Willful misdirection when trying to secure funding or get an IPO.