Culture Internet

‘Everything is fake’, says Ex Reddit CEO Ellen Pao on Internet companies’ traffic metrics

On Wednesday, the New York Magzine published an article titled How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually which questioned the verity of various aspects of the internet and how almost everything but the money involved in it is fake.

But one of the major issues which were pried upon in the article was the hoaxed internet traffic metric system. It explained how the entire concept of a metric system is supposed to be simple and represent an accurate picture of the internet. But still, even internet giants such as Facebook failed to produce genuine figures.

“Over the past two years Facebook has admitted to misreporting the reach of posts on Facebook Pages (in two different ways), the rate at which viewers complete ad videos, the average time spent reading its “Instant Articles,” the amount of referral traffic from Facebook to external websites, the number of views that videos received via Facebook’s mobile site, and the number of video views in Instant Articles.” the article stated.

Aram Zucker-Scharff from the Washington Post also took to Twitter, to support these claims. He said All the metric numbers are nothing but bull crap,
“The agencies responsible for enforcing good practices are knowing bullshiters enforcing and profiting off all the fake numbers, and none of the models make sense at the scale of actual human users.”.

Ellen Pao, the former CEO of Reddit also joined the party and supported Aram’s claims by saying:


It’s all true: Everything is fake. Also mobile user counts are fake. No one has figured out how to count logged-out mobile users, as I learned at Reddit. Every time someone switches cell towers, it looks like another user and inflates company user metrics. And if an unlogged-in user uses the site on multiple devices, each device counts as a unique user.

Ellen K. Pao, via Twitter

The article also touched upon the scandalous world of fake YouTube views and fake subscribers counts. It mentioned how according to certain statistics, less than 60% of internet traffic is human. And how there was a period this year when half of the YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as humans.”

The article also mentioned how the content, the businesses, the people on the internet are all fake. And concluded by saying, we ourselves are fake.


What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t “truth,” but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be. Years of metrics-driven growth, lucrative manipulative systems, and unregulated platform market places, have created an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real. 

Max Read, author of the article.