Tuesday 19 March, 2013
It’s been reported that Lady Gaga has recently lost over 150 million views on YouTube. Is her popularity past its peak? Not at all. What’s happening is that Google is purging what it sees as fake reviews. The purge started in December 2012.
The reason Google is doing this is that it has recently discovered that some celebrities’ videos have fake views. Their view counts have been artificially raised by hackers. It stinks for the celebrities in question, but Google’s cleaning house.
Lady Gaga isn’t the only one to lose views. Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Chris Brown and lots of others have seen a drop in their YouTube views. It’s estimated that at the time of writing, around 2 billion views have been cut. But it’s interesting to note that somehow Gangnam Style came out of the purge unscathed. Couldn’t they cut a few of those views?
Fake Views Hurt Google
The fake views in question have all been cut from the official record company sites of the recording artist. Universal Music Group, just one major label, has reported losing a billion out of its 7 billion views. Sony has lost nearly a billion.
YouTube pays a great deal of money to its partner sites in order to use their videos. The more views there are, the more YouTube has to pay. When there are fake views hiking up a video’s count, this means YouTube’s parent company Google is throwing away money. It’s estimated to be millions of dollars.
Google has made clear that it’s not a security breach. It’s just cleaning up and making sure that users are in accord with its terms of service.
A Black Hat Technique
Artificially raising video view counts is a black hat SEO trick. Social media promotion sites are built on number of likes and views, which in turn help them promote their own sites.
Hackers raise view counts through automated systems. Black hatters can elevate view counts using sites like YouLikeHits and AddMeFast. These sites give you points for the number of shares, likes or other social media reactions you get. Artificial views can be used to boost a user’s profile. It’s reported that this is one reason for the popularity of the Kony video, which went viral in 2012. In the simplest terms, this technique makes something appear more popular than it actually is.
This isn’t Google’s first YouTube view purge and it’s most certainly not the last time it will happen. Google is always laying the smack-down on hackers and black hatters who violate its terms of service. If you see a dramatic drop in a video’s view count, this is probably what’s happening. Your favorite celebrities are just getting caught in the crossfire, but I’m sure they’ll be alright.