How to succeed in China showbiz without really trying

January 07, 2019 14:30
Industry practitioners call for more effective regulation to safeguard the public from unscrupulous online practices. Photo: Reuters

You can buy anything online. 

We are not just talking about all sorts of goods and services you can order from online shopping websites such as Alibaba's, but also clients, followers, admirers and fans, whom you will desperately need if you're in the entertainment industry.

The official Xinhua News Agency said in a report that many show business practitioners in China make use of fake accounts to boost the popularity of, say, a movie star or a television show.

So don't be readily impressed if a pop singer's Sina Weibo post garners 100 million "likes" or a TV drama series reaches a billion page views, Xinhua warns.

The report quotes an unidentified source in a publicity agency as saying that a certain mainland superstar makes use of fake fans at a cost of 55 cents each or even as cheap as one yuan for 15 fans.

In other words, if you have cash to spare, you can have as many fake accounts of fans on Sina Weibo as you want, and they are always ready to "like" your every social media post or click on all your shows.

Their comments and page views are, of course, for sale – starting at 3 yuan per 100 likes. A "simple" fake fan costs about 45 yuan each while the price of a real fan, who can make flattering comments and praise you to high heavens, ranges from 1,000 to 10,000 yuan.

The good thing about these agencies or operators, which claim to do business with all major social media platforms, is that their marketing strategies are covered by a confidentiality agreement.

This means that no one else will know that most of those adulating comments and likes on your social media account are fake.

According to Xinhua, another social media agency can get 10,000 views on a film for only 30 yuan. "Likes" are also very affordable: 10 yuan for 200 likes, 20 yuan for 500 likes and 300 yuan for 10,000 likes.

See how easy it is to be a success in show business? Your legions of fans may be fakes, but you will soon attract real fans and the trending on social media will take care of itself.

Wu Shenkuo, secretary-general of the Research Center of the Internet Society of China, is calling for a multi-dimensional and integrated approach to clamp down on this fake internet traffic.

There is a need for legislation that will allow regulators to blacklist purveyors of these fake accounts, disclose details of their deception, and impose heavy penalty to discourage such activities.

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EJ Insight writer