YouTube Scraps “Fake Views,” Introduces New Policies

by Jordan Richardson on December 31, 2012

Google has put the kibosh on at least two billion fake YouTube views. The chopping took place on Tuesday, with YouTube doing a bit of winter cleaning.

The fake views came as a result of record companies figuring out how to artificially inflate view counts on YouTube clips associated with their artists. The biggest offender was Universal Music Group, losing about one billion views from its total of seven billion. Sony lost 850,000 views from some of its music clips.

Artist pages, like those belonging to Chris Brown and Avril Lavigne for instance, also took hits in the view department. Over the last 30 days, 500 YouTube channels have seen these so-called fake views stripped from their view counts.

At first blush, it was considered that the view-stripping took place as part of some sort of technical glitch. Google’s forums were flooded with concerns, pertaining to both the view count issue and the removal of several videos due to violations of YouTube’s Terms of Service. YouTube confirmed that this was no technical glitch, however, and referred to the portion of its terms that bans “automated methods of inflating view counts.”

“This was not a bug or a security breach. This was an enforcement of our viewcount policy,” wrote a Google representative.

Whether it serves as an accurate metric or not, many turn to view counts as indicators of popularity. Recently Psy’s “Gangnam Style” entered the zeitgeist by passing one billion views, generating a whole lot of popularity for the Korean rapper and his infectious dance video.

So how did this happen? According to reports, the record labels were turning to “view-building” services like YouLikeHits and AddMeFast to get the job done. These services actually sell page views and even “Likes,” which may explain an awful lot about popularity on the Internet.

Stories of fraud online are not uncommon, but this does prove an interesting object lesson as to the lengths that record companies and media conglomerates with go to in using technology and trickery to inflate the popularity of its clientele.

YouTube is hoping to cut some of this off at the pass, implementing a new way to track popularity in videos (by length of time spent watching clips rather than mere view counts) and continuing to slice and dice fake video views.

For those concerned, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” was unaffected by the view count purge. Hey, sexy lady indeed.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSSTwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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