Social Media Pickpockets

OK, a less inspiring post today… but one which has been on my mind for a while now… and come to a head in the last 48 hours… and also one which I want to write, or feel the need to write.

In the last 6 months there has been a sea-change in and around internet marketing… which is largely due to the way Facebook, Goggle, Amazon, Instagram… all the big beasts in the playground… chose to organise their systems, their platforms, their algorithms… and although you may not know it, a great chunk of your life is now being influenced by software algorithms running on a server somewhere in Iceland probably.

So when someone changes their algorithms… so the lives of a great many people are affected.

Bit like if you pollute the waters upstream, so everyone downstream suffers the consequences.

And when Facebook or Goggle suddenly change their algorithms… and they never say they are doing it or what they are doing, it’s left to everyone else to figure it out… then a lot of small online entrepreneurs / businesses using social media are impacted… because what was working yesterday just isn’t working today (and as result, people have had their successful businesses crash overnight).

Because they find that, instead of the river being polluted… suddenly the river has completelydried up.

Now, this has been happening recently, over the last 6 months… changes to the algorithms… and as a result several old routes of doing business online have closed down… while new ones have opened up. Hence, the reason why I describe it as a sea-change.

And, as a result, there has been a steady increase in the number of small entrepreneurs looking for a new, reliable route for doing business… and, if by magic, a steady increase in the number of people offering their proven, new magic route to online and financial success (guaranteed or your money back within 30 days).

Now, the majority of what is being offered is clever, creative, and no doubt does offer a credible and new way to make money online (although you probably need to be Bill Gates to invest in them all).

But, in among them, there has been a steady increase of products which… are… how do I say it… well… they challenge the concept of good business ethics.

They often ignore the terms and conditions of the large internet companies… I have seen one offering that basically hacks into someone else’s website and tries to syphon off traffic… Now, whether these are illegal or not, not sure… but the question I have to ask myself is “If I did that to someone else… would I like that being done to me?”

Each of these offerings claim to provide access to an amazing online opportunity, and their promoters (and their many online affiliates… don’t get me started on that one) can all produce snazzy sales graphs to show how much profit they are making with this new approach. But when I sat down and thought about it… I realised that this cannot be completely accurate, because of the following analogy.

Imagine you are the only pickpocket in a city of one million… life is good, and you make $100,000 a year, and you never come to the attention of the authorities because only you are doing it. Next, you teach your skills to 1000 people… saying you can all make $100,000 a year, just like me.

But as soon as 1,000 new pickpockets hit the streets then very soon the public / authorities realise that something is wrong, and start to take steps to protect themselves… and so going forwards, the 1000 new pickpockets are not as successful as you… and many of them are caught by the police.

This analogy is very similar to what is currently happening online in some areas.

Some of the new “offerings” are probably successful because their originators are the only ones using that strategy, and so Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, whoever are not alerted to their presence or what they are doing.

But as soon as they sell it on, the playing field instantly changes, because now there is 1000 people all doing the same thing, and the chances for the big online companies to figure out what is happening increases, along with the chances of them closing any loopholes etc.

So I seriously doubt new people make the same level of return as the originators of these magic solutions.

But it also raises a very important question…

What are you prepared to do to earn money?

If you wouldn’t steal from someone’s shop in the real world, why is it suddenly acceptable to hack their website?

And if it is something that you wouldn’t do in real-life… why is it suddenly acceptable to act in that way online?

Afterthought:

People often go in for insurance fraud because it is seen as a victimless crime… you are not stealing off a person, but a large, faceless multi-national cooperation that can afford it… and who probably made their money stealing off someone else anyway.

And when you hack a website you never see the person who owns the website, just the site itself, which is pretty pictures, text and code.

So there is an element of that going on I think.

And of course, people use fancy marketing and sales talk to make whatever they are selling soundgood… so often you can’t see what is happening, the reality of what you are doing.

But also… the other problem is… that often the technology distorts and masks the reality of what is actually going on.

So we can’t often work out the real human interaction which is going on, whether we are helping or harming someone, because the technology in between makes it so hard for us to see the big picture.

(c) Brian Parsons, March 2016.

 

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