[not] Trusting Reddit

Because of the issues we find with trusting Amazon reviews, we often turn to reddit for product opinions. But, as with all growing markets, bad actors find a way to infiltrate them. A superficial Google Trends comparison provides evidence in favor of the hypothesis that advertisers are increasingly turning to Reddit for advertising, but not the “Right Way.”

Evidence that the growth rate of interest in buying reddit accounts is outpacing advertising on reddit.

So, I surveyed the marketplace. There are a lot of accounts for sale!

Accounts for sale on one of the marketplaces that came up in a search. (“Karma” is basically “reputation points.”)

It makes you wonder: how much of Reddit is “real”?

Note: I decided it’s probably better to bring awareness to the issue, so that countermeasures can be developed over time, including user skepticism. Reddit has an interest in both maintaining community trust, and in promoting its advertising as preferable to the black-hat approach. On the other hand, this also brings awareness to black-hats, although they probably already knew about this through other channels.

Note to Reddit’s ML team: I think you could detect these kinds of shenanigans by looking at signals coming from a change in IP address, browser fingerprint, and a shift in content (especially toward promotional or political posts) all right around the same time period. You could even set up a honeypot to get some ground truth…

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