I’m sure it’s always been true. If we could time travel to some Sumerian market, I bet we’d find someone selling fake something. Now we have Google Foundation Awards, Craigslist scammers, predatory journals, and Ph.D.’s for sale.
These likes for sale seem like parasites upon parasites: pay to become an ‘influencer’ so that you can inflate your numbers and sell endorsements.
Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.
And the great fleas, themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on;
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.
–Siphonoptera, by Augustus De Morgan
I knew this kind of thing went on; I just never knew it was so cheap to become so popular. If my Twitter feed suddenly shoots from 240 to 10,240 followers tomorrow, I promise it will have happened organically. Believe me.