How many likes are real?

The desire for “likes” drives many people to keep posting on social media. But how many are authentic “likes” from a human being?

This photo is from the CNN article “Photographer steps inside Vietnam’s shadowy ‘click farms'”, showing a wall of phones that are controlled by one computer.


Some of Latham’s photos depict — albeit anonymously — workers tasked with harvesting clicks. In one image, a man is seen stationed amid a sea of gadgets in what appears to be a lonely and monotonous task.

“It only takes one person to control large amounts of phones,” Latham said. “One person can very quickly (do the work of) 10,000. It’s both solitary and crowded.”

At the farms Lathan visited, individuals were usually in charge of a particular social media platforms. For instance, one “farmer” would be responsible for mass posting and commenting on Facebook accounts, or setting up YouTube platforms where they post and watch videos on loop.

The photographer added that TikTok is now the most popular platform at the click farms he visited.

Hoping to raise awareness of the phenomenon and its dangers, Latham is planning to exhibit his own home version of a click farm — a small box with several phones attached to a computer interface — at the 2024 Images Vevey Festival in Switzerland.

On Instagram, Latham’s photos usually attract anywhere from a few dozen to couple hundred likes. But when he deployed his personal click farm to announce his latest book, the post generated more than 6,600 likes.

The photographer wants people to realize that there’s more to what they see on social media — and that metrics aren’t a measurement of authenticity.

So, the next time you see a social media post with many likes, ask yourself how much of those clicks are real!