Badshah, one of India’s most popular music personalities, has what seems to be a massive count of followers on social media. Known for his rather flamboyant music videos that go with his songs, Badshah had previously claimed that the video of his song, ‘Pagal Hai’, raked in over 75 million views on YouTube on the very first day when it was aired. This, he claimed, made it the most popular first-day video on YouTube, beating global pop icons such as Taylor Swift and BTS. While Google had rejected this claim, the singer now finds himself in more hot waters as the Mumbai Police has claimed that Badshah paid Rs 72 lakh to various agencies promising video views en masse. This, he reportedly did, to stake a claim at having one of the most popular music videos on the internet.
Badshah, whose real name is Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia, has claimed that he “categorically denies” such allegations. However, even if he is eventually proven to be guilty of purchasing ‘fake’ views for his video, he will hardly be the first public figure to have done so. Case in point is the rampant industry of fake followers and video views – two publicly displayed numbers that have a big impact on how people who come across a person’s page or content on social media reacts to them. While Sisodia’s alleged act of paying Rs 72 lakh for fabricating the total views count on his video was at the higher end of things, it is a very common practice that technology platforms have frequently acted against.
The price of a YouTube viewer
As multiple media reports over the past few years have revealed, the industry of fake followers and views is an increasingly commonplace one. Initiating the process is as simple as a basic Google search for a query, such as ‘buy Instagram followers for cheap in India’. The search string reveals a number of websites and listings, which in turn direct you to agencies that offer assured additions to your social media follower count, or other metrics too. Some of the areas where you can pay to expand your online presence include video views count on YouTube, post likes and comments on Instagram, page likes on Facebook, ‘real’ followers on Twitter, and so on.
One of the first sites that turn up via Google Search is SocialBar.net, which claims to use legal and safe promotion techniques to guarantee you an increased follower count. It also has a large number of filters – for example, you can choose what type of followers you would want to purchase to increase your social media standing. These options include ‘real’ Instagram or Twitter followers, and also region-based, such as Arab followers, European followers and so on. There appears to be a standardised rate for each platform – for Facebook page likes with the default setting, you will be expected to pay Rs 165 per 100 page likes. For Instagram, buying 100 followers will cost Rs 90, while 100 Twitter followers will cost about Rs 80. If YouTube video views is what you are after, you can purchase up to 50,000 YouTube views for about Rs 14,000.
What’s interesting to note is the layered approach that a website like SocialBar.net offers. For example, for YouTube video views, which Sisodia is accused of fabricating, you can choose to buy views based on YouTube advertisement views, for which the website offers a ‘lifetime guarantee’. This mode lets you add up to 200 million views to your video, at a rate of 500,000 to 2 million views per day. You can also choose to add ‘targeted’ views to your YouTube video views, which will add lesser number of views, but also charge lesser money for it. Using the targeted method can be particularly fruitful for YouTubers with lesser video view targets – and they can pay as less as Rs 260 for 500 YouTube views.
Other services that offer coordinated ‘campaigns’ to buy social media followers, engagement and video views in India include the likes of SocialKing, YTViews, BrainPulse and a whole bunch of other similar portals. Each of them offer varying prices to buying followers, likes, comments and views, and almost all of them claim that they do not use bots to add to the numbers.
How common is it
While Sisodia aka Badshah’s alleged act of buying 72 million views may be one of the bigger orders for buying YouTube views online (if proven true), the general premise of buying followers and views from the internet is not uncommon at all. Any Instagram influencer will vouch for having been contacted by ‘agents’, who promise an increase in follower count. These independent agents typically charge even lesser than agencies, the likes of which are mentioned above. Most such agents almost always resort to using bots to deliver numbers that are essentially hollow.
Over time, platforms like Instagram and YouTube have cleaned up their platforms, wiping out a large number of spam and bot accounts on their platforms. This directly impacts users who have paid to add views and increase followers on their accounts, and eventually, leads to the money going to waste. It is also certified as an illegal act by most social media platforms, since social media personalities typically use numbers such as follower counts and video views to attract paid partnerships with brands – something that is typically known as an ‘influencer’ campaign.
Whether Badshah purchased his video views or not remains up for investigation. However, social media agencies and firms such as SocialBar remain operational right at the top of Google Search, showing just how easy it is for anyone with the money to try and buy their way into the big leagues of social media follower counts and views. Whether it works or not is a separate debate altogether.
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