Digitally China Podcast: Buying Followers in China’s “Like” Economy

In China, buying fake "likes" is such a severe issue that nearly a third of the country’s internet traffic last year was rated “abnormal”. So what's going on?

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4:07 PM HKT, Thu August 29, 2019 1 mins read

Digitally China is a bi-weekly podcast from RADII hosted by Tom Xiong and Eva Xiao, and produced by Jacob Loven. On each episode, the team will tackle a different timely tech-related topic, providing key insights on all you need to know about the fast-changing nature of innovation in China. Find previous episodes of Digitally China here and subscribe on iTunes here. Scroll down to listen to the latest episode on Spotify.

The business of selling clicks and fake accounts is the scourge of social media today, where anyone from wannabe influencers to political saboteurs can purchase likes, followers, and even comments.

In China, the issue is so severe that nearly a third of the country’s internet traffic last year was rated “abnormal”, according to third-party advertising data monitor Miaozhen Systems.

And though Chinese social media platforms from WeChat to Weibo to RED (Xiaohongshu) have repeatedly cracked down on fake and bot accounts, the shady business behind the “like” economy is alive and well.


In this episode of Digitally China, we’ll explore the factors that drive the creation and selling of fake engagement metrics in China, the impact, and the process and cost of actually buying them.

Topics covered in this episode

  • The reasons motivating people to purchase fake engagement

  • How to buy followers and price comparison between platforms

  • Why platforms can’t get rid of the fake engagement business

  • The impact of fake metrics on brands and the saturation of Chinese social media platforms

Listen to the latest Digitally China episode below or find it (and previous episodes) on iTunes here.

Cover photo: Celebrity Cai Xukun, who has been accused of having “fake” followers

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