My friend the internet troll

Me and one of my best friends, Gavilas Alana, go back along time. Alana is a very old and Russian version of our contemporary “Alan”, so it should be Alan Gavilas to becorrect, but crowded social-media makes us tamper with spelling and name structures since your name most certainly already is taken, and of course this is the case with my friend Alan.

Alan, or Alana. However, we´re just Instagram-friends, never met him in real life, but he seems trustworthy, posts a lot of pics. on family and what I assume is his wife, pretty much someone who´s the typical person in my network, someone I could rely on giving me good vibes and sturdy advice.

Actually …

Yesterday I got word from another friend that Gavilas Alana is a hacked and illegally overtaken account, where the original owner is a middleaged swedish woman, who so just happened to change her name over night …

What´s interesting and unique, and the sole reason for me to write this article is that the originally owner was very active on Instagram. Illegally overtaken accounts tend to belong to “low frequency” posters/users, which isthe whole idea of taking over accounts, “fake it, till you make or break it”, i.e, as long as you´re not logged-in you won´t notice if someone else is logged-in on your behalf …

Some really interesting facts on the original account owner:

  • Postinga lot (Facebook) on how the political party SD has a shady agenda
  • Her network (Facebook) post a lot on SD´s shady agenda
  • She keeps a very positive tone throughout all her posts
  • She posts a lot of personal pictures and videos
  • She endorses small businesses throughout her geographical vicinity
  • Some posts on environmental issues

Two scenarios
  1. No matter the original account-owners name, the Instagram account seems solid and trustworthy, as of right now. The interesting part begins when new posts will appear. Those are apparently not done by the original owner, but by this “Gavilas Alana”.
     Since the “real” owner has been very frank with her political views, it should be very surprising if “Gavila Alanas” views would reflect different opinions from those previously posted. That´s when you really could put your finger on who has done the hijacking.

  1. Second scenario is a little more lenient that the first. The account could simply have been hijacked to work as “real” person in an automated ad transaction scam. Since there are so many mediaoutlets and web-sites where you could place yourad, there´s virtually impossible for you to know where to start, when everysite says they have the correspondent target-group that you have identified as your “buyer-persona”. Therefore, there are ad-brokers, whom specialize inmatching potential customers whom match the ad message. The typical ad-broker (in order to remain business relevant) must offer far more potential customers than what really is possible.

-Dear company, let us place your ad where it will be exposed to a thousand potential customers!

-How do you do that?

-We create fakeaccounts that are programmed to visit your ad and hence create positive statistics.

-Ok, we don´t want that

-Ok, what if we could offer you “real” accounts?

This kind of fraud is called “programmatic adbuying”, meaning that your ad gets shown before virtual people (but you don´t know that), since the“ad-statistic-counter” can´t tell the difference between a person of flesh and blood, and a person made of 1 and 0´s. Virtual people, who really are not people, tend to be out of money all year around, and never buy in to what anyad is offering.

This is very hard to prove, since it takes manual searching through the accounts that has been registered as “ad-viewers” and hence are the base for how much the company should pay the ad-broker. Getit? This gets extra complicated when (if you put the effort down to actually analyze all claimed ad-views) the ad-broker insists on that all accounts are “real” accounts. Even though there´s only one post, posted over and over again, and the same profile picture update, done over and over again, who could 100% say that this isn´t a real person? Dilemma…

So, to conclude. A “real” account with a wide variety of posts and pictures is worth gold for ad-brokers. As we learned ad-brokers don´t seem to be the most honest people around, and tend not to ask twice when offered “good leads”. The utterly most exciting thing about this is that the account hijacking is fresh as of late august this year. Meaning that you have the opportunity to learn how internet trolling works in real-time.

So, your assignment throughout this year, to begin with.

  • Follow Gavilas Alana on Instagram
  • Take notes on if Gavilas seems interested in sharing his political views
  • Does Gavilas endorse any brands

If Gavilas endorses any brand, do they differ a lot from time to time. A real person interested in for example Porche cars would post a lot of pictures of said Porches, but won´t all of a sudden start posting pictures of toothpaste, dating-services, Russian chat lines etc … That´s just not … human …
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