Hot Take: That New York Times Article About Influencer Fraud


2017 was a challenging year for media organizations. For the first time they were facing real scrutiny for how trustworthy their reporting was. From the term “Fake News” to Facebook and Google changing their algorithms, awareness to how we consume information has been one of the strongest trends of the year.

Unfortunately, the epidemic of false reporting did not overlook social networks, and it most definitely did not skip over influencers. If anything, the nature of social media creates an impossible situation where influencers have to pay to remain relevant, in the same way that some athletes feel like they have to use performance enhancing drugs — because others are doing it.

From its inception in 2013, HYPR has been a vocal actor against fraud in the space, serving as the last line of defense for our clients. Our CEO, Gil Eyal, has dedicated a large part of his career into raising awareness and building solutions to deal with this epidemic.

In this article last year, Gil said:

“…Just like any other form of digital marketing, influencer marketing is extremely susceptible to fraud. In fact, the whole industry is structured in a way that encourages influencers to inflate their numbers – both follower and engagement numbers by paying for bots to follow them or engage with their post… We [deal with it by] taking an audience sample and look for red flags – significant lack of activity, following of other accounts that are known to be bots or fraudulent, odd locations (a huge audience in a random country), and specific language analysis algorithms that identify out-of-context or grammatically-incorrect behavior”.

So let’s not sugarcoat it. Fake followers are fraud. Bots are illegal and harmful. And HYPR is and always has been at the forefront of the fight against it. Since this has been getting more attention in the media, we would like to share with you a bit of the efforts we exert to ensure the influencers we recommend are evaluated by their actual, real, active audience.

How We Do It

HYPR’s team of data scientists and developers come from Israeli IDF intelligence units, and are consistently focused on removing both fake and inactive accounts – both of which contribute nothing to the advertiser. Our methods include, but are not limited to, automatically:

  1. Identifying unique patterns of behavior;
  2. Tracking suspicious network connections (follow other fake accounts);
  3. Exposing repeated posting of unoriginal content taken from public places;
  4. Image recognition (to identify images used elsewhere on the web);
  5. Tracking follow/unfollow behavior;
  6. Recognizing suspicious letter replacement – l (Lowercase L) and I (Capital i).

Why This Matters

This weekend, the NY Times wrote an article bringing mainstream attention to this issue. It’s a big one, and one that afflicts most influencer activation platforms because they’re incentivized to sell you influencers. The larger the following that their influencers have, the more the influencer can charge. You need to be aware of this issue and be careful. Influencer Marketing Companies often have an inherent conflict of interest.

This is where HYPR is different. HYPR does not represent influencers. We represent the brands and agencies we work with, and as such, we do not find ourselves in a position of conflict. Your interest is always our top priority, and we have been ensuring you work with the highest quality influencers since day 1. Our incentive is your success, lowering your costs, saving you time, and increasing your ROI.

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