Chinese social media went a-flutter at this photo of an apparent App Store clickfarmer

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Good god.
That looks like a deeply depressing job.
And always remember Goodhart’s Law


I do not see anything regarding Chinese social media being a-flutter. Do you guys use dice to make up these headlines?


It’s hard to imagine this would be financially feasible, given the low value of each install versus the cost of each phone (and the bandwidth being used to install all these apps), even with however many apps they do this for.

Looks like she could be playing a great new synthesizer.

The smartphone equivalent of


Likely they’re running the “phones” via wifi, no? I mean, do they even have to have sim cards to work for this? The definitely don’t need to be recent (just modern enough to run whatever the latest-ish iOS is, right?).


Even on wifi, they’re paying something for bandwidth. I’m pretty sure there’s no way around having a sim card, and with iPhones at least, you have to have a relatively recent phone to get the most recent OS (a five or six year-old phone won’t cut it, at least).

You need a sim card to activate your iphone, but you don’t need one to use it unless you want to, you know, make a call. I assume Android is similar. Take the sim card out and pass it on to the next device once you’ve got the phone set up, and it’s identical to using an ipod touch.

Although for clickfarming, most likely you’re wanting to use the cheapest devices you can buy, so an ipod touch would be the preferred IOS device, or a really cheap $100 AOSP tablet for Android. The woman in the picture appears to be using a rack of tablet sized devices.


When they’re charging $11k per app just to get it onto the store page and $65k for each week that will pay for a lot of iPhones which are probably the largest expense in their budget. If they run the downloads through wifi (why would they use mobile internet when it’s way cheaper not to) they don’t actually need that much data. In 2013 it looks like the average game was 60MB so even if the size has gone up a lot since then their internet doesn’t have to be incredible to run this service. Really speed isn’t that much of an issue they could queue up a bunch of the apps they’re placing that week on each phone and wait then go and do whatever else they do (open and click around a bit to make it look like they actually used the app to get around simple fraud tests).


Even if the individual pieces of hardware are required, I would have thought there’d be a cost-efficient way of automating this.

Unless, of course, it’s prison labor.


Where is Simone Giertz with a Shitty Robot to solve this problem?


Are you on any Chinese social media?

If you read the article, they allude to it there, even if they don’t say how viral it is and where it’s viral. They just say it’s viral.

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In an a-fluttery way?

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Aflutter can mean anything. It usually just means people are talking about it.

At first, I interpreted it to mean that it sent people’s hearts aflutter, but that’s just my false interpretation, and there’s nothing to back it up.

Only if you’re sitting on a wall in Through the Looking Glass.

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Woo, Geoff Downes!


One thing I’ve noticed about Google Play is that it doesn’t record that I uninstalled an app.

Good eye.


Yikes! That was part of what didn’t make sense to me, because I couldn’t imagine it would be worth that much to app makers. I have no idea what order of magnitude number of installs they need to do this.

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Since at least the first time I got a spam-email it’s been clear that for all the advances of modern technology, and for all the good the internet can bring us, there are also so many ways it can be perverted by people finding loopholes. When I see something on craigslist that seems like a ridiculous steal, I will usually get an email reply of “sorry, I already sold it, but you can buy one cheap at the same place I got mine, this new website that’s better than ebay!” I’m also reminded of schools that blocked instant messenger apps on their computers, so kids find a random blog and start using the comments section as a chat room.