What Life for a Bangladeshi Click Farmer Looks Like
It’s not the sweatshop labor you’re thinking of.
What's the value of a Facebook like? It depends on where you look. But in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where 30 to 40 percent of Facebook likes are processed, the street value appears to be around $50 for at least 1,000, according to a new documentary.
Field of Vision, the documentary initiative from Laura Poitras and The Intercept, published a short film on the cottage industry that's funded by parties willing to pay for likes. The video above shows us the day-to-day lives of these Bangladeshi click farmers, who say they receive a monthly stipend in exchange for liking pages on Facebook. The Facebook page links are passed in through a payment site and then passed down to members of a secret group.
One farmer said he got into the business because of a lack of opportunities in the country, but it's far from the sweatshop labor image you'd probably expect when you think of the term click farm.
In an interview with The Intercept, filmmaker Garrett Bradley said "Most of the people doing this work were young men who were educated, had gone to college. It was very much in reaction to not being able to become a doctor or an engineer with the only other alternative being physical labor."
Though the act of liking may seem entirely automatable, one of the interviewees in the video said that there's an actual human being every like. How much that amounts to real brand ambassadorship, however, is up for debate—Bradley says advertisers place much lower value on Southeast Asian likes, namely because they're so often priced to sell.