Kris Wu is a Chinese rapper in his late twenties. He had 45 million fans at Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, but only less than 160 thousand fans at Twitter whose service was banned in China.
He became well known after his new album was released last week and it immediately shot up to No. 1 on iTunes, with seven of his songs in the Top 10.
Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” was then released but it was only No. 4. It’s too good to be true for Kris Wu. Rumors spread around that bots helped Kris to jump to the top.
Bots, for anyone who might be unfamiliar with the word, is an algorithm which generates the automated clicks and messages to boost sales figures or streaming numbers. It is a way to create fraudulent “likes” or 5 star reviews so the customers will be attracted and convinced then place the order. The popularity brought by bots is fake.
A similar method is click farm, which is an organized group of low-paid workers employed to click on particular parts of web pages, especially approval buttons in social media as a way of making businesses seem popular. Same as bots, the result generated is fake.
Kris Wu’s iTunes-Topping sales are under review whether it’s by bots, click farm or impatient fans that helps him to rule the chart. Regardless, the result is not truthfully representing how well he sings.
I won’t be surprised if it turned out that Kris Wu or his company indeed used “artificial” methods to manipulate the ranking because this kind of mindsets are common in China.
I often received asking from my friends or acquaintances in China to click “like” or vote for a candidate of certain competition, could be for singing or performing art, or something not entertainment industry related, such as “The best teacher of the year.”
The champion will be selected based on the likes he/she received. This is not being honest or even legitimate. I wondered whether it’s the competition of skills or people networks.
While online business is booming and growing rapidly in China, the competition grew exponentially. Businesses are desperate to capture the eyeballs of consumers. It’s painstakingly long and expensive process to innovate products and improve quality, a quick and dirty way is to use bots, click farm or likewise.
I am not saying China is the birthplace or the only place of these kind of tricks being implemented in the world. But as a country grows very fast in economy, delivering a lot of products made in China to the world, the rules and regulations are falling behind. Making money is the rule of thumb and supersedes everything including legitimate and fair competition.
I would love to see China making progress in all the aspects, and deeply appreciate the fact that Chinese people are working hard to get rid of poverty, but hate to see people play hard to make money and fame by hook or by crook. Eventually this will hurt the ecosystem of the whole society.
For a country with strong economy but confused conscience is not real strong. For a person, “Having nothing left but money,” is an alternative type of poverty.
Song Li is the resident of Seymour and member of Seymour Toastmasters Club. Send comments to [email protected].