Like most people I know, I had no idea what a click farm was. So when someone from the BBC sent an e-mail to me a few days ago inquiring about the existence of a click farm in the Philippines, the first thing I did was to look up for the meaning of the term.
Here's what I found from Scamtypes.com:
[A] click farm is made up of armies of low-paid workers whose job is to click on links, surf around the target Web site for a period of time, perhaps signing up for newsletters and then to moving on to another link. It is very hard for an automated filter to analyze this simulated traffic and detect that is it invalid as it has exactly the same profile as a real site visitor.
The virtual gang masters are making money via two methods:
The first method is by hiring out their click farm to competitor fraudsters who want their opposing companies advertising budget eaten up so their ads can appear at the top of the PPC rankings at a lower cost.
If, for example, the cost per click of a keyword is US$2.00, and the competitor pays the click farm 5 cents per click, it is easy to see how a few hundred dollars investment in a click farm can cost a competitor a large amount of money.
US$1,000 investment = 20,000 clicks = US$40,000 against the competitor.
The second way the gang master can make an ill-gotten income, is through clicking on content network links which they have.
Using a system such as Google’s Adsense, the click farmer creates a Web site which in turn publishes syndicated advertisements from Google. When an end user clicks on the link, the advertiser is charged and the advertising revenue is shared between Google and the click farmer.
In conclusion, click farms are a product of an increasingly global economy where earning a few U.S. dollars a day for relatively easy work is much sought after by third world workers. The people in the developing world making a few dollars a day are not to blame, rather the gang lords organizing and collecting the fraudulently obtained money are the real villains. They are not some modern e-Robin Hood, taking from the rich first world corporations and giving to the poor, they are organized crime syndicates taking from the rich, throwing a few coppers to the poor and getting rich on the loot.
The BBC employee was actually researching for a documentary on click farms, which she said is a relatively a new phenomenon. She said a colleague of hers heard about them in the Philippines.
I e-mailed back to say that since I didn't even know what a click farm was, it also means that I'm not aware of any of its existence here. Well, at least, that's as far I'm concerned. Probably, there's one being operated in a building in the middle of Metro Manila or in a house tucked in the hinterlands of Mindanao.
That's where the trouble lies--poor folks from a developing country are easily drawn to scams that offer lots of cash with very little work. This is also the scourge of a borderless world--a group of con artists from the far side of the globe taking advantage of hapless people.
Off to Zambia I'd like to fire a quick note on Fermin "Tarcs" Taruc, managing director of Gurango Software Corp. (GSC), who's going on a Sabbatical leave for six months to serve as a volunteer with VSO International in Zambia, Africa.
Taruc's duties at GSC, one of the only few Filipino-owned global software firms, will be temporarily shared by a slew of company executives, including GSC founder and CEO Joey Gurango.
Taruc's African sojourn will see him work as a resource advisor to the Gender Governance and Citizen Participation Program of the Kalomo District Council in Zambia.
He'll be back on April 2010.