Lord of Bots: Why Ankit Love GAVE up Over a million followers on Instagram and Twitter And Turned Down $$$$ from Brands like PRADA And COACH.
Or the most lamentable tragedy of a boy who believed a bit too seriously in the power of Love.
Or a True story about Truth, Freedom, Law (or lack of it) and Love on Universal proportions.
Update 29 April 2015: This work is Novelette that will is left in a somewhat unfinished state
I think I only managed reading a few drops of James Joyce’s Ulysses, see I cant remember, this could even be a false memory. Cause I have heard about it so much. Or maybe I couldn’t relate to the notion of stream of consciousness. Sounded like a bad reality TV show. I always felt my consciousness was much more heightened then that, I felt my consciousness was a waterfall in the Himalayas, no my conciseness was a typhoon. No that doesn’t fell right, too heavy and circular too many unnecessary revolutions in that image. I need some thing more heightened. Star of conciseness? That sounds like a really bad 70’s game show. You know what I am doing now, right? I just playing with your mind. Isn’t the media so powerful it can lead you to anywhere with out you raising your gaze or looking ahead. All consumed in the emotional strings they pull in the news for any bias you may own. Dman. Now that’s a realisation. See, my consciousness is a cloud.
Last November, I deleted my Instagram and Twitter accounts each of which had nearly a million followers. I lost almost two million followers in just a couple clicks. Yes, I was ranked as the 1,511th most followed person on Twitter, not bad out of 284 million supposedly active users. And on Instagram I was the most followed person from India. But I didn't feel good about it. And it's not because I hate social media, nor do I find it intrusive, matter of fact I believe it's one of the most powerful tools we have for the benefit of humanity. So was I mad to do so? And am I mad in revealing what I am about to to you? I don't think so.
It was eating me up inside, I felt like such a phoney and I couldn’t go on like that anymore. I started getting all these offers, brands wanting to pay me to post about their products to even a University in India inviting me to lecture. I was getting away with it, and I could have started making money from it. On this adventure I ended up even collecting a few influential and genuine followers like Nick Cannon, Shawn Sachs, Saudi millionaires, models, fashion designers, club owners and models. But I just felt so low, and soulless, how could I accept any of these offers knowing what I was doing? What I was doing was building up an arsenal of the weapons of cultural mass destruction.
But sadly everyone is doing it, even the leaders of nations, even the politicians I used to admire like the President of the United States, Barack, how could he of all people have 50,904,295 fake followers? (See appendix to understand how I arrive at this figure, you'll see I actually rounded down.) That's more then the populations of Canada and Cuba combined! Does he have no remorse? But even the Dalai Lama has millions of fake followers. It’s just not right. After knowing how this works, I feel like I cant trust anyone. Followers are not commodities, Followers were meant to be sacred.
The whole thing has gotten sickening, and I think it’s dangerous for our cultural health. It’s seriously skewing fair competition and our ability to judge quality. It's negatively impacting our cultural potential and collective psychology. In a democracy we’re indoctrinated to respect the popular, so we need to be aware when popularity is being rigged or inflated. Just as you wouldn't accept a rigged election or an inflated vote count, why should you accept the attempt to sway public opinion by rigged and grossly over inflated social media profiles? When now elections or even revolutions can be influenced and won by the power of the virtual realm, the people need to be aware.
Yes, I lost a few thousand dollars in seconds by deleting my profiles, and perhaps credibility in the eyes of a few. But I feel like I have done the right thing. I don't make my art just for the sake of money or popularity. Andy Warhol had it so wrong. Good business is not the best art, but simply, the greatest art will be the best art. Sadly, a generation of people are religiously trapped in this fickle Warholian bubble of pop art, wrongly believing whatever is the most popular or expensive is the best. Making money is important, but cultural and political leaders need to transcend that as well. And you know that culturally things are bad, when Warholian fundamentalists are revered. Like the art exploiting industrialist Damien Hirst who states money is “as big as love, maybe even bigger.” This bubble will burst. You have my word, even if I have to pop it myself.
So I got into the dark arts, first by using fake views for promoting youtube videos. Eventually I got so good at it I rigged one video by 5 million high retention views, it was even trending in some countries on Youtube, getting as a result about half a million real views. With the right budget I could have probably even recreated Gangnam, they didn't even use high retention views in the beginning of that "campaign". When everybody is doing it, you feel you cant compete. It feels like a cold war. Your videos are being judged before they are even seen. But Youtube was too difficult to compete in, even with the faking, the market was so saturated and overinflated, and Youtube realising this also started updating and cracking down hard on fake views. I would need to find fresher pastures.
Later I would move onto fake followers on Twitter and then Instagram. Though in the very beginning I did use Facebook ads to try and build up a following completely legitimately. Actually, I had almost 200,000 real followers on my Facebook page with these efforts. But as irony would have it, I had to disable my Facebook page too, because of a random 5,000 spam followers which appeared over night. I don't know who sent them, it certainly was not me. I would never use such low quality bots, or deal in such small numbers. Facebook noticed and banned my page. I wrote to them over and over again saying it was not me, I had spent so much money on advertising and so why would I risk this account with spam bots. I told them I had a lot of engagement from my fans who believed in me and my message of peace, truth and love. They took away a sanctuary I had made for two hundred thousand people, to meditate on Love. I had a medium of media to disseminate Love, when was the last time that happened?
They just didn't care and ignored me. I wondered, had I been more famous or powerful if they would treat me differently. Would they behave this way with Barack or Bieber, don't they get spammed all the time? I even wrote to many lawyers in San Francisco, but nobody seemed to care. Was there nobody or regulator or committee I could go to directly, who kept a check on this kind of thing? Surely there must be, this was real money, dollars and pounds that I spent on this page, not even Bitcoins.
And why were these lawyers so cold towards me, not even a Skype consultation when I was willing to pay them? Was every lawyer in San Francisco working for Facebook already? No, surly not, that couldn't be true. I didn't believe in conspiracies. Ofcourse the reason for getting a lawyer there was that the fb terms and conditions state any dispute can only be settled in a state court in San Mateo or a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. So flying lawyers with me from London specialised in US tech and business law would have been way out of budget. I wondered if this was happening to others on Facebook all over the world. Atleast I had some understanding of the law, how many poor fearful souls may have lost money and had no capacity to arrive with lawyers in San Francisco. I took the flowers out of my hair, and sunk my head. What could I do now, how could I fight a company as big as Facebook without even legal advice let alone a lawyer. I had no chance. I felt so low, what would my fans, friends and family be thinking when they noticed my super active page was gone, they must have thought I was up to no good. And at that time, that was not true.
I said nothing, but speak to few close friends. One of my friends was so fearful he told me that he could not get involved with me in commercial matters if I decided to engage Facebook in court. He was so worried that my associates and their companies may suffer as a consequence, he even suggested that if we did ever work together to use this offshore BVI and nominee system to keep anonymity. Was I really hearing this? In fact I had educated him about BVI companies to protect his identity, as he wanted to get involved in the media and came from an autocratic absolute monarchy that wanted all monopolistic control over the media. So this way he could conduct business without the three to him or his family. Did he really feel this way about Facebook and America? The land of the free and the home of the brave?
Even my mother who was a champion barrister of the Supreme Court of India; the first person to successfully sue an Indian government body, proving my father had been robed of a seat in Parliament as consequence vote rigging by the Election Commission, (I don't know how she managed to do that in 1980s India as young woman from poor and simple farming family), but even she with her legendary and magical legal capacity could offer no solid legal advice. She did give me the one thing I needed most then, real love. It didn't matter that it came from 3622 nautical miles away or over Skype. I just thank the Universe, that they don't have any followers on Skype.
You see the problem with the internet is it's all bit new. My mother though a legal maestro could not be sure. For example, in this virtual world who would you really say owned that page or those connections to the fans? Was it me or was it Facebook? I'm not a possessive or materialistic person, but in this case I really felt it belonged to me, and at that time in my life I needed them badly. Yes, I was paying for advertising, but I had paid that direct to Facebook, not a third party. And much of that was paid with the understanding to get fans connected to my page, who would stay connected for as long as they liked, and see my future updates in their news feed. Now that might seem like a complex agreement, but none the less that's what it was. It shouldn't matter who or what spammed my account. As long as I had my paid for fans then I had a right to access them for the rest of our lives and maybe even our children's, or atleast till Facebook went bust. I read somewhere online that BMW valued their average Facebook fan for $1613, Starbucks was $177, and Coca-Cola $70. Those are just companies selling product. Mine were exceptional and priceless, we had found love and we were going to change the world, I really believed that. So even if I took the conservative estimate of BMW's vale as a token sum, Facebook would owe me $315,175,361. Yes, things can grow fast on the Internet. And this is not even calculating for the emotional and psychological trauma I suffered, how can you even imagine to really price or compensate human suffering. But the Californian courts which Facebook insist are the only ones that can judge on this global crime, do set a limit for punitive damages. Between 3 - 10 times that of the compensatory damages. And if I was not the only one. If this carless bot controlled injustice was being executed all over America and all over the world, (and it was, I had googled it, and read in forums about others in pain) well then that would be $945,526,083 to $3,151,753,610. I would have let Facebook pay it in instalments, I'm a reasonable man. But this was the time of the Wild Wild Web, and I had just been robbed by the information super highwaymen.
This was also the worst possible in time for this to happen. 2013 was fast becoming the year from hell for me, and my real life too was reflecting this virtual mess. My madly beautiful, Latvian artist girlfriend was breaking up with me yet again, this time sadly it would turn out to be final too. My mother had just moved back to India. Money was very tight, some weeks I was not sure how I would get by. Earlier, I had bought a plane ticket to go to the Cannes Film Festival that year. The year before in 2012, I had tremendous success there showcasing two films, and making many friends. However, this year I had no money to be able to do anything once I actually got there. I had already maxed out my credit card. I did too have hotel room booked, but no money to pay for it. What would Horatio Alger do? Well, you see Horatio Alger Jr., was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, not Chelsea, London where I was living in that moment, nor he been clubbing in the next-door Mayfair. Clubs so exclusive even the Illuminati couldn't get in, well unless they came in with a couple of long legged blondes, or booked in advance through a promoter as my friend Jag, the former F1 lawyer, turned club owner, turned global nomad, would tell me, beautiful women were the real currency at these clubs. Not the money, every one here already had alot of that.
I was lucky to have one invite to Cannes, more precisely to Cap D'Antibes harbour and a super Yacht. A 21 year Russian business student, I had met a few months before at a club in St James's still the Mecca of the clubbing Universe. She was an enchanting girl I had met at Scotch's, a little known establishment now hidden in the shadow of the White Cube. Legend has it was here John Lennon first met Yoko Ono. And I had just met a very sweet Russian girl, with long legs and short pants, her face I didn't find instantly attractive when she turned around from the bar and walked towards me with those bare gazelle legs. Of course I taken it in all before, the view from behind had been rather nice too. And to think they had almost not let me in that night in to Scotch's, didn't they know I had shared a wall in history with John Lennon when he had lived at 57 Green Street. Well, I don't take the word no too seriously, not only had I managed to get in I was also in the VIP, and now after closing hours I was on a chair in the far right wall, with Russell in his suit and dreads sitting on a sofa sideways across and this late night intoxicated Russian student crouched in front of me. She took an interest in my H&M completely faux-fur Ushanka, with knitting on the sides. What humble and simple girl I had thought, remember this was months before I was invited to her superyacht in Antibes. I just thought she was hot, and liked the prospect of “having those legs wrapped around my neck like a hermes scarf.” Actually, it was Blaise Patrick, who would give me that quote, incidentally if would happen down stairs in Scotch's at again Anna’s birthday party. He told me how he used this line to seduce this model to great effect.
She was telling me her father was some kind of diplomat involved in football. I couldn't care less for football, it had already consumed a good portion of my youth I could never get back. So I smiled and nodded and told her about my times in California, apparently her father wouldn't allow her go there on her own. How peculiar I thought. When I was leaving the club to get a Taxi, she had insisted she drop me home, she had a car there and a driver. How very gentle-womanly of her I thought. The only thing rarer then a gentleman these days was a gentlewoman, thy all wanted to be bitches. How did they all get that in their heads? Turned out we had a lot in common she had also attended boarding school in Surrey, it turned out her brother had gone to the same boarding school as me, ACS Cobham. She even used to ride horses in Hyde Park. I learnt to both ride horses and do an oli on a skateboard in Hyde Park. I would practice trying kick flips and oils late in the night in front of Royal Horse Guard, on South Carriage Drive. One night the guard came to tell me to call it a night, cause all that racket from the spinning wheels would bother the horses. I apologised, I never assumed that a faceless 1960's concrete wall meters high was housings living breathing creatures. I apologised told him polity, saying I had assumed assumed it was a car park. Oh the dangers of assumptions. I waked a few meter back to the gate on Park Close. It was shut as was past midnight. Well, that was usual I just did the same thing I did every night and scaled the 5 meter tall gate black metal. Walked down the dark ally, with just with few scattered street lamps at the end of this short ally was the Wellington Club, and I could see the merry revellers falling tripping in and out. I had got to know the door men well, but was never really fascinated with the place at the time. Never went in for the three years I lived there. Was not even really curious, maybe slightly intimated by the shaven head door man. Many years later when I had enter my power and clubbing phase. I would realise, I had nothing to worry about. I was at Scotcht’s as you already know, I was at Annabel’s, I was at Coya, I was LouLou, I was at the Arts Club, which didn't have that much to do with arts at all, I was at Soho House, Shoreditch House, China White, (I know this getting a long list, but it’s important it may become the important thing to note at the end), Mason House (funny name that) I was a member at Beat, I was banned from Beat, I still went to Beat. I was at Tramps, heck I was an honorary member at Tramps, the real mecca of it all in away. a special catogarhy of membership exited there only for me. Unwritted, all I had do was send an email, unlike all the officcaly listed members there who had to pay £20 per guests, I didn't have any obligation, David the general manger would buy me and my guests drinks. Power came so naturally to me, I didn't even give it any value.
Those were the times of real abundance in my life, just before the 2008 market crash. I had a red Porsche Carrera 4S, shipped to London from California via the Panama canal, and a yellow Mustang with black racing stripes I bought in St. John's wood. At this time Hyde Park was my sanctuary I had view over the Serpentine Lake living on the first floor of a quaint red brick Edwardian block. I would even cut through this pleasant building site next door that would later turn out to be a monstrous construction of bad taste, I would have really expected better from name like Stirk, Harbour + Partners, by the sounds of it that's a lot of people involved. Years later a Kazakhstani friend of mine would ask me to go there to tutor her in either fashion business marketing; or yoga. And I would think to myself how could some place so expensive, have such a lack of style and grace. I realised then that money was paid for what people believed and not what something or someone was actually worth. And we realised it was better to do our future lessons at my place. But back in 2008, life was just devine. Somehow though it all seemed to vanish after that market crash. Some strange dealings with my mother's banks, that were even too complex for me to understand. I had to move out almost overnight from my cosy little apartment to my mother's home yet to be refurbished diagonally across the park. Green Street, Mayfair. She had leased this terrific mansion from Amadeo Investments, a company once owned by naughty Prince called Jefri. The plan was to make it look sharp and live there for years, I had even arranged a quote direct from Kelly Hoppen's builder, we'd get all that Hoppen style for a third of the price. I am Indian you know. But now there was barley any cash, sure we had assets but to make them liquid at this time was near impossible. And so we lived in this decaying Mayfair mansion, complete with a 19th century stove right next door to the Beatles, all be it 45 years later. In this 6,600 sqtf mansion around the corner from Selfridges it was just my mom, my Uncle, myslef and the 6'6" Kyle from Texas, he had been my roommate in art school in California, and was now visiting Europe for the first time. We actually had a terrific time there in the beginning all of us making merry, my uncle cooking, strange avant grade photo shoots by two guyanese brothers. Our friend Simone, from Lyon came to stay for a bit painting both scenes and portraits both digital and on canvas. I had my art scene happening, all compete with a decrepit Mayfair mansion across the road for Alexander McQueen's little flat, for now things were good, though sadly later on he'd end up hanging himself. It's traumatic whenever your neighbour commits suiside (I cant even spell that word), but strangely amplified in your conscious and subconscious when you find out about it in a media cirrus, coming back home. For some reason that has always stuck with me.
The police turned up once, the neighbours must have called them. They asked Kyle, who’s style was akin to a tramp at the time, if this was a squat. Hell, No officer! We had a contract, straight from the Sultan of Brunei. Thank you, come again. Or better don’t. I remember there was a lot scare and fear in the media at the time the London bombings had happened they were real. We just lever a block around the corner from the American Embassy practically sharing a mews access with the secret CIA town house. From the rooftop of this red brick mansion, which was like a more gurney ethinc version of the Royal Tehnbauns. I could see the Amercian flag fluttering, I thought for all there failings of this company, I mean country. It was trying something, suddenly the music stopped playing in my mind. But why the hell a country as rich as that couldn't give their people education or healthcare. Bullshit, they needed to change too, just like the rest of us. All this Americna in my heart where did they come from? New York, New York? Californication? Really was it the music and movies that was actually limiting me. I passed the joint back to Kyle, and wondered. There was a nice breeze of possibility in the air at that time. I was surrounded by artists, living with my mother, and Uncle, money was running dangerously, it was a bohemian family. Perhaps the only family I had known family, all my life I had lived in boarding schools from the age of 4, or with aunts and Uncles. You see when your parents are trying to change the nation they don't have so much time to give their actual children. I fully understand that, then why am I crying typing this? The world is full of so much mystery and magic, John Lennon and his lot had lived next door at number 57, four decades ago when they first came to London. Was there something in the bricks this one wall, the very same wall that had separated these two houses 57 and 55 for a hundred years?
I was being separated from all that I had, worst of all, my uncle Dev, who in part brought me up, and was helping me in my music, videos and marketing suffered a brain stroke in the music studio. It would leave the whole right side of his body paralysed. Even though he had the stroke in the studio I didn't notice something was till we were in the car, and he was driving extremely strange. I tried to talk to him, but his logic must have also been effected. He couldnt even properly properly shuffle his right foot from the gas peddle to the breaks, and he didn't think anything was wrong with him. Speeding through winding country roads at 60 mph, driven by a large sikh man who doesn't realise he is infact sick. Who can't move is right foot properly from the gas to the breaks, is indeed a sobering experience. For a week he was stuck in a hospital bed and couldn't even communicate. It felt like I was losing so much, so quickly. How could I also be losing this page that we had worked so hard to make, the only platform I had to communicate with my fans. Things in the cloud aren't meant to be like this. They shouldn't atrophy like the things here on Earth. They are meant to be silver lined and light; eternal and etherial. At that point I hit the joint lowest time of my life. The other time being in 2002, when Harvard rejected me, and I had no University place to go to after high school, that drove me mad, literally, I checked into the priory right as Kate Moss checked out. Luckily then, the California Institute of the Arts took me in to heir band of non judgmental avant grade experimentation, I wish I had understood better what that meant back then. But this time, this time there was nobody to help, it felt like there was no justice in the world. Recalling all this now, makes me wonder how I even managed to pull myself out of that deep depression.
I don't think this directly influenced my decision to use fake followers, but perhaps it was playing in my subconscious. I would have never though used fake followers on Facebook, I knew their platform is based on friendships and communities, so it wouldn't make sense, and the ad platform while expensive was satisfying. I could see a lot real good growth happening. So why would I send myself $20 spam, risking an account I had spent $30,000 on? I was naive but I defiantly was not stupid. But what was the point of spending tens of thousands of dollars on it, if it could be taken away so cruelly and unjustly in a second? After many times writing to Facebook with no response, I'd given up hope. Eventually after 6 months they got back to me, reactivated my page and deleted only the spam followers. And warned me not to do it again. But I hadn't done anything wrong, what right did they have to judge me like that? Making me feel they were doing me a favour when in fact I was paying tens of thousands of dollars to them. And how dare they think they could be judge, jury and executioner. I realised then the Internet was not that democratic, bohemian, free port I once believed it to be. I had had my first glimpse of it's automated piratocracy. Was there anyone actually even reading my heartfelt appeals? How could any human being reading what I had written not give a reply? Or were these decisions now even taken by bots? I resented Harvard even more, had they accepted my application 15 years ago, I would have been one of the first investors in all this. (I know this, as I was so naive back then, I wanted to invest in all my friends, no matter how risky. From films and stage shows to tech start ups and even loans for summer school. Unfortunately, I didn't recover even a penny from my early investments and bad lending.) And if I had invested in this company, I would have made sure it was operating more humanely. The world would have been a better place.
Even though they had finally reactivated my page there still were technical faults with it, my page never worked the same, and still the page's advertising option keeps oscillating with no pattern between being blocked and unblocked. I wrote to Facebook a few more times, but as you can guess, it's rather pointless. I'd probably get more response from an inflatable doll. But seriously, it rendered my ability to communicate with all those real followers useless. It was so heart wrenching to lose that facebook page, I had spent so much time and money on. Countless late nights staying up to work out smart advertising strategies, targeting and copy. It was a positive and happy time of real potential before the injustice struck. I can still feel the weight and pain in my body, I still have to hold back the tears remembering what happened even when I write this nearly two years on now. It was an absolute traumatic period. Besides, by the time they got back to me I had already moved on to what seemed a far less risky and less costly in comparison. Fake followers.
While it took me two years to get 200,000 real followers, it only took me two days to acquire 2 million fake. The process to acquire real followers and views, to do it the right way, was very expensive and time consuming in comparison, in some cases by a factor of a 100 or even more. I felt I couldn't afford to keep up with the competition that was blatantly cheating and being rewarded for it. So I adopted the if you cant beat them join them approach. I should have known better then to fall for a cliché.
With a bit of research, experimenting, reading black hat forums and studying the strategies of the competition, I was able to orchestrate a social media fixing operation on a mass scale, and not just limited to fake followers. But also to comments, likes and even mass commenting and liking. I employed social media fixers, like exchanges and bots across the world including in the UK, USA, Russia, the Far East, Sri Lanka and Eastern Europe. One fake followers dealer I used from Pakistan even boasted about working on Charlie Sheen’s and NBC Today show’s Twitter accounts. It’s worrying when you meditate on this. That some how democracy here and our perceptions of our leaders and media outlets can be manipulated by people in countries that have deplorable track records of upholding democratic values.
On Instagram I really excelled though, I was running the show. You see it's not just the followers that are fake, it's the likes and comments too, the whole thing is a circus, and for a bit I was a ring master. I had several apps on my phone that would allow me to trigger bots or access like exchanges to make the whole operation happen in real time where ever I was, I was getting thousands of likes per post, and as many comments as I desired. I would then use a macros to auto-like and mass comment on thousands of profiles I would never actually see, waiting for the real ones to bite. While personally I'd research and target select influential accounts. And bite they did. I got real comments and real interest, I had become the most followed Indian man on Instagram, number one out of a billion, and all of it manufactured. Even today, Abhishek Bachchan has less then 500K followers.
Ofcourse the fact that I was hanging out and posting selfies with models at Milan Fashion Week or attending the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco F1 all helped to make the illusion seem real. The deeper I got into this fakery though, the more shallow, materialistic and narcissistic my actual photos became too. I was consumed, rushing to awaken and command my bot army and strategic apps and checking on them to ensure my biddings were performed to decimal detail. Later, I'm sure I could have developed means to automate the management of this process, but for now I was on the frontline of the lies. It didn't matter where I was or what I was doing; having dinner; at a party or at home, once that post went up I had to work. My friends must have thought I was a ravenous phone addict. While my soul was vanquishing, my image was rising. I would flirt with published models, and receive invites to meet from London to New York to LA. I'd receive well wishes from new fans and compliments on my music videos. I was even followed and acknowledged by Shawn Sachs the publicist of DiCaprio, Affleck and Naomi. He even once asked me to share his photography, and he's actually a good photographer. As did my real life friend the fashion designer Nicole Coste, she had opened her first store in Knightsbridge in a shop I had found for her and now sweetly asked me if could help her brand get some more exposure. I felt bad, because in reality no one was actually looking, I wished that I could have really helped them all. A few months later when I was having a festive
At the Cannes Film Festival, I met influential film industry members. From top agents, composers, film festival directors, aspiring actress, down to even Paris Hilton's Algerian bodyguard. They would get impressed by my following, look up my work and stay and in touch. One young Saudi investor who first noticed me at the Hotel Du Cap, later approached me when he saw me at the Martinez, asking me what I was doing in Cannes. Ironically, this innocent University student and part-time private jet dealer was also relatives with one of Twitter's largest investors. I told him I was there to raise funds for the screenplay I had written "Romeo Juliet". He asked me, how much? I told him $16 million. His response was, if I was sure that would be enough. He kept in touch with me on Instagram, later posting a photo of us together taken at Gotha Club, asking me to also to post it at the same time. In a rare instance the bots failed. He messaged me when I was at a social dinner at the Sass Cafe in Monaco, asking what was wrong with my Instagram. I was scrambling to fix the situation on my phone, while trying to keep cool in front of my friends at dinner. Eventually, I just blamed it on the Internet .
I got away with it and he believed me. Its rare when the bots go wrong, but doesn't it always seem to happen at worst possible time. Perhaps it was a sign, perhaps my mindless minions were actually trying to tell me something, channelling a power that even humans cant yet. Perhaps I should have listened because next time I wasn't as lucky. He had wanted me to come to Paris, where he was living at the time, to discuss the film project, but later when he once again posted a photo of us, things went wrong. I had just started experimenting a new strategy to send bot likes and followers to the posts and accounts of others who would tag me or I would tag.
But I hadn't got the balance quite right yet. As a result it looked far too inflated, and he noticed. He was a genuine boy and asked to have the likes and bots removed. This time I confessed to him about the fakery, but blamed it instead on my pr "team". While bot liking is a common occurrence, there is far less infrastructure in place for bot unliking and unfollowing. So I told him my "team" couldn't do it. I felt so tense and rotten, at this rate I was going to have more cover ups then Nixon.
I wanted crawl in to a corner and die. He was such a genuine boy enamoured by all us celebrities and spin. He had believed it was real. I felt like I had told a child the truth that there was no Santa Claus. And all the toys were only made for profit. It also made me think of Saudi as a whole. It's hierarchy. If the oligopoly of senile brothers could be broken. Would it allow purer young men to bring a positive and faster change to the whole region and it's people? Would there simply be more love in the world? I felt a little better thinking well atleast this an oligopoly of a few senile brothers was atleast one thing far worse then spam bots.
I don't know why I couldn't figure out a way to get the bots to unlike. I had tried to search for it. But seemed like nothing existed readily. Almost as if the system had been made as a defence for bots and frauds. I think I even discovered that there is a limit in Instagram of how many people you can unfollow in one day. I wondered all those years back why had I been banned for getting spam that somebody sent me.
Wouldn't that be nice if we could get all the bots in the world to auto unfollow and unlike, in a moment this whole charade would be over. A war on the bots by the bots, it would make alot more sense then a war on drugs, and absolve the world of alot more paranoia. Not to mention it would be far cheaper. Money! Yes, that's what we are talking about. Then, in started coming the real, tangible offers that I could have never imagined nor had even aimed for. Emails offering me money to post for brands, big and small from Prada to ThinTea. When I researched into this I realised I could be getting about $5,000 for every post, that would have made the whole operation profitable in just a couple clicks. It was costing me under $50 a post to get 10,000 bot or real likes and 100 comments.
Yes, you heard me correct at this stage I could even get real likes and comments, how Dick Dastardly was I? But surly if they were real likes then it would be OK, I hear you say. Somehow, you may want to believe that after going through all this in just 31 years of my life, I could have have become the worlds greatest advertising genius and discovered a way to now reduce the real cost per click to just $0.001. Oh no, how wrong you would be. This was perhaps the most dastardly of all the techniques I had mastered. No way for anyone to tell what was fake or not now, no trace of a bot, not even a whiff of spam. (Oh don't judge me Tom Robbins, you weren't there.) How positively mediaeval, otherwise known as the like exchange network. I would harvest these dark underworlds of social missledia to get mass real likes. It was a bot Baron's wet dream. Random people mechanically liking post after post with no genuine attention. They wouldn't even know who or what I was or what they clicked. Each time we had been getting more and more sophisticated, from the Barbarian tribal chieftain, Roman Emperor, to the feudal Baron, the pre-Reformantion Popes, plantation owners, the child exploiting 19th century lazy-unfair capitalists, to communist general sectaries, 1960's multi-nationalists lobbying Kissinger, even the ugly offsprings of Che's revolution, to the pseudo-socialist self-absorbed Gandhi family, to even the squeaky clean all-in-black techies, my once idol Steve Jobs sapping the new physical slaves of capitalism in communist back lands of China. Cause you see all those people, we, are infact all the same character, the Lord of the Bots. The one's profiting from one form or another of mass enslavement. But now we had worked out a new way to tap their minds and psychologies, making them labor away without any blood spill or even a bruise. And we would now get so rich and so powerful and you had no control, no vote, after all we were even servicing you leaders their own insecurities, and their need for popularity to win elections. Actually, the moment you cast one vote, got into one discussion, turned on to check the "news" we had you, how do you think you formed that belief. We might not have your brain or heart in a jar yet, but we already owned your thoughts and feelings. Yes an ignorant shallow popularity contest served with a heavy dose of fear, call whatever you like, why not a democracy? Would a thorn not sting as bad were it another word called? The most genius means of mind and eventually soul control.
No force, no coercion. You wanted it, or so you thought and felt so, but wait that was us too. But who's keeping track? Why pick on the details? How can you actually revolt against something with no physical presence? And yes the best part was we were invisible. Do you really believe you can have the freedom to speak, if you don't have the freedom to learn how to feel and think? We had learned from the failure of the cigarette industry too, they were stuck paying billions of dollars in compensation. They had been too brash, advertising on any fast moving red car or Hungarian ass. We went straight for the jugular, the advertising and visual it self. We even made art galleries, and told you what was culturally acceptable now. Some how it was all boiling down to shiny steel balloon dogs as inflated in size as price. Well we had to make sure it was more expensive then Francis Bacon or Van Gough, real feelings are not so easy to suppress you know. Espically with Van Gough who had taken his art dealer brother's advice and started adding more colour to his work. But we knew that people knew how to respect a price tag. I mean fixing price tags was a far easier affair then actually manipulating social media in the begging. All that used to require was a monopoly or oligopoly, and bit of press leverage, wich too was more or less an oligopoly, at least the stuff most people paid attention too. So nothing with feeling could be at the top, or most expensive. That would ruin everything! And while we were at it why not throw in a couple classic Card Sharks and flog them of to the eager, but culturally under stimulated Middle Eastern Royal families. And Bingo! As detective Colonel Hans Landa would have liked to say, when he arrived in his white picket fenced abode in Nantucket. Yes, it had turned into one large cocaine fuelled casino, of projected base violence, vilified drugs, where making love considered a dirty thing at large. The word on the street is that cocaine reduces a man's appetite for sex. I never figured out why they said that. I guess all men are not made equal. But that doesn't mean they all can't earn equal love and respect.
I would end up sitting back to back with Quieten one night in the lobby of the Hotel Du Cap on a late spring night. This is when I was at the hight of my bottery. He was loud and pitching his story to some Russian investors, a larger then life figure in trainers, slacks and plaid. I too was talking about my film project "Romeo Juliet", there was so little between us, sure I wanted 16 and he wanted 160. But same formulae really, just different numbers. It was a pattern, and in four short years I had figured it all out. I knew how I could be in control of both reality and virtual reality. I was with my BRIT-school trained model and assistant director Natalia Czarnomska. He had Uma. She was vision in reality, is her following gown dress, all eyes secretly gazed on her as she danced intoxicated around her sun, Quentin. I think it was love. She sat so comfortably in his lap, mesmerising. While we all saw the image of Uma we all heard the voice of Quentin. In a motion picture world of democracy, you may never see the real directors, but do not readily assume, that the players on the stage wrote their own lines even if they think so. Who taught them how to think?
The war on drugs had really helped bring down the street price and glamorise cocaine, which in powder and brick form with no smell was far easier to logistically sneak back and forth through the panama canal. And with no government ability to monitor the market, no one could check for quality child labour have to pay any tax or duty or whatsoever. All those fearful mind controlled people, you would call them the majority, we would call them the target audience. We had done so well under this veil, and they were so fooled in search for the impossibly perfect image, they had given birth to the actual last remaining unregulated crude neo-capitalistic industry, the drug trade. It didn't even have any borders, to the drug barons no body was sovereign. But even they were actually working for us at the end, we were influencers we could even influence which drug would be popular. Once again there was no law. The only laws against drugs actually worked so well, the fear gotten mothers were telling their children the dangers of drugs on society and then world without making them aware of the dangers of drug probation on the entire world. See once you can get through to the mothers and their programmed love and desire to protect their children, you can disseminate any message in mass in a just a generation. Evolution had never prepared our minds and hearts for world of print media let alone, the lightning fast bits and bites of social media. What were we becoming?
I wonder if those mothers knew that in the 1930s when Marijuana was banned, that it was newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst, pioneering "yellow journalism", vilified cannabis, with headlines claiming it lead to violent crime mostly by the unenfranchised afro-american men who would use it to seduce white girls. Yes sex and rape, the nuclear weapon of "yellow journalism" used to cement mind connections and discredit any writer lothario with ability to rebel against them. We all better make a rush for the Venezuelan embassy, fortunately it's right next to Harrods, my corner shop in those early innocent Knightsbridge knights. In any case in the 1930s the government decided to do the very thing governments do when they want to get upto no good. Set up a committee. In this pointless circus of hot wash already resolved on a conclusion looked for evidence to support it. Dr. William C. Woodward was invited to tell the committee what they already wanted to hear. However they had forgot he was neither a politician or media outlet, he was dangerous, he was open to enquire, to question. Now check this out this, it reads like a stage play, with a bit of dramatisation this could be the next "To Kill a Mocking Bird".
Dr. Woodward: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen. It is with great regret that I find myself in opposition to any measure that is proposed by the Government, and particularly in opposition to any measure that has been proposed by the Secretary of the Treasury for the purpose of suppressing traffic in narcotics...
In an editorial on this subject appearing in its editorial columns of April 10, 1937, the Washington Herald quoted the Journal of the American Medical Association in part, as follows:
"The problems of greatest menace in the United States seem to be the rise in the use of Indian hemp (marihuana) with inadequate control laws."
... The Herald is not discussing marihuana alone, but is discussing the narcotic invasion of America.
"The problems of greatest menace in the United States seem to be the rise in the use of Indian hemp (marihuana) with inadequate control laws, and the oversupply of narcotic drugs available in the Far East threatens to inundate the western world."
Wait, a minute which rat-bastard journalist was writing this garbage!? My mother is from a rural back water of India about 100 miles from the Chinese border.
Mr. Vinson: Are you going to put that in the record?
Dr. Woodward: I shall be glad to. The quotation has reference to the seeming situation that results from the statement of the Commissioner of Narcotics and not from any evidence that is in possession of the American Medical Association.
Like a speeding car on a wooden bridge escaping an inferno.
So why not flood all the creatives with this ego inflating stuff. We would think, yes Oliver great idea with Scarface. Good artist, pat on the head. We'll make sure we fix a few Oscars for you, why not? After all we had the power to do so. When I was driving a friend I had made in Cannes 2012, the Champagne prince of Chelsea, in his red Ferrari carriage, he would tell me how desperately Oliver had begged to get his some charlie. He himself was not interested, only stuck to Champange. Actually one time when I was stuck in a dark hot place in the heart of the middle east, the beautiful war scarred city Beirut, going through yet another twisted break up with my madly beautiful Latvian artist, he invited me on boys trip by sheer coincidence to Riga, Latvia. I booked the next flight out of that humid land of cedars, from where my girlfriend had been lying to me about love on Skype. Throwing jealous fits of rage hearing I was volunteering in clean up and set of for the young Russian curator Marina Kurikhina's show of Latin american contemporary art at the Rove Gallery, Hoxton Square once again just a diagonal through the trees to the now cleraly empty White Cube. he ended up showering and brushing his teeth with the local Champange but took him to an establishment in Knightsbridge where a skull disco ball by Hist was spinning.
Best of all we had no real link, no real product, no real evidence, and best no law. We weren't even the richest, that would have got far too much attention. So we would promote those with easy products to get the limelight which in turn would fuel our own gross profits but far more important then that, respect. We had the most respect from the people that really mattered. We would be long gone when all the clicking was exhausted to our retreats in the Swiss alps, and let who ever we allowed to become President clear up the mess, and pay for all the arthritis treatment. We might even invest the companies selling that cure, but ensure it was nothing too effective. What's the point of solving a difficult problem too quickly when it's paying the bills for the jet fuel.
Nobody was forcing them, except their psychological enslavement to self-image. In exchange they would get a measly credit or two to exchange for a few likes of their own. Real but mindless feudal click farms. Real people doing the work of bots. My poor vacuous vassals tilling away for my manor of stardom, in exchange to enjoy a few drops of humble popularity for their own barren patches. I was already an anonymous Lord of the Bots, and know in a even more depraved twist I had become the Lord of people who were once real, but now behaving like bots, all in the real global fiefdom of false heroes and popularity, it was worst then a religion, (atleast in a religion there is some pretence of soul) and my young servants were indentured through their phones and apps on call night and day by their own hunger for the image. A nasty cyclic chain and hierarchy of inflation of which I was nearing the top. I was on my way to be King.
This could have been extremely profitable. I thought to myself, should I take the money, post to empty followers and then reinvest to grow it even bigger. Once I knew the formula and started raising revenue, I could have easily pushed this to 10 million followers, 100 thousand likes per post, and thousands of comments. Then could I get maybe $50,000 a post, more? Could I even learn to control/invest in the social networks, there would be no stoping me, there was no law. Easy riches and great fame only seemed one yes and one year away. I had learned exactly how to do it without getting caught. Early on, I had a few close calls with temporary bans on activity, but now I had worked out how to feel the limits. Sure Instagram would keep updating to catch out the bots but I kept adapting too, checking for news of their algorithm updates in forums and finding new strategies to stay one step ahead. Who knows what more influential people I could connect to if I grew my "following", I mused. I would have probably started getting TV interviews, record deals, film contracts and endorsements. You may have heard about me as the next "viral" fairly tale, smiling and lying on the Ellen Degeneres show, besides I was already in touch with the most powerful publicist in the world. And after all the Ellen Show too has millions of fake followers, it's all part of the game right? I was one of them now, I had already started to influence the hearts and minds of the people. I could see where all this was going, but I was torn. I had started four years ago as just a naive sweet boy wanting to share his lo-fi music video "People are my Favourite Thing", with the world to make it a better place. But here I was now turning into a well-oiled sinister and wolfish bot King.
In the end, I couldn't take the money for something that I knew wasn't true. All deceptions aside, that is fraud. My mother had taught me better, she is a lawyer. I decided I didn't want to be part of that deceptive world. Every time when I would look at my profile my heart would sink. And this would happen quite often. Because let's face it social media reflects on you day to day or for some even hour to hour. I was even embarrassed to meet new people and see them get impressed by my "following". The deception, it's implications and pressures were always on my mind. I started wondering if my new contacts in my virtual and real life were drawn to me just for my hollow following. Whenever someone looked at me in admiration or said "Ankit could make you famous just by tweeting", I felt so empty. I then started to try and explain in private how this was all a marketing trick, yet as in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", the guilt kept pulsing on my conscience.
I felt so good when I deleted my accounts. I felt emancipated. As if a weight had lifted off my body, mind and soul. Even writing this more then two months after makes me feel more cleansed and righteous too. Sometimes it's hard to quit the deeper you go down that path and the bigger the lie gets. Especially when money gets put on the table. I am glad I did though. I can be me again. I feel more creative and now I can focus on making my art quality, instead of constantly worrying about getting banned or living up to artificial expectations. I have already restarted my new Instagram, and have just a few followers now, but they are human and that's what I want. I realise now I would rather have just one conscious soulful friend or follower, then a million bots or perhaps even worse the real ignorant slaves to empty attention.
It was funny because a little after I deleted my Instagram account, by sheer coincidence the great Instagram purge came in December. It wiped of millions of followers from most of the celebrity profiles including Akon, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. Hordes of fake followers were annihilated. Just the top 20 most affected profiles alone lost over 30 million fake followers. I didn’t know they were going to purge accounts like that, but it did make me smile when it happened. The real extent of the situation is far worse though, I probably would have only lost 20% of my fake followers in that purge, and recovered in no time at all. Actually, I wouldn't even call it purge, I'd call it more of a mosquito bite. Annoying when there is only one, but nothing threatening without a sustained swarm attack.
This is because, just like internet users all fake followers are not equal. Some are made to be more sophisticated. The bots that incubate these culture devouring zombies, can make them appear more real too. They do this by giving the fake followers profile photos and even a few tweets of their own. Sometimes these zombies get classified as “inactive” instead of fake, creating an even deeper layer of deception, confusion and even depression.
We need to be vigilant about this now and find mechanisms to put a stop to this fraud. Because as artificial intelligence technology matures, it perhaps won't be the physical robots wanting self determination we need to worry about, but instead those invisible advanced bots enslaved by ourselves. Designed to manipulate our minds and hearts. To some degree this is already happening. I used bots that could mass like and comment based on precomposed text and hashtags. But what happens next, when millions of fake followers may be able to debate, create false consensus and suppress ideas? What if they could be programmed to clandestinely indoctrinate us with certain agendas or ideologies?
You know, if I can come out about this as an independent artist, they all can afford to come out too and start again. It would be the right thing to do. The thing is if we are deceptive on these social networks, where and when does the deception end? Could this influence banking, stock markets, politics or our personal lives? (Is this is the sort of deception that on large and small scales builds up and contributes to boom and bust cycles.) And if the social networks cannot control these fakes, why don’t they just stop displaying the numbers all together, or at the least display them less prominently in an effort to curb this depraved behaviour? Unless ofcourse, they don't want to know and it serves their interests to have a inflated number of followers for their networks too, to turn a blind eye to celebrities, inorder to boost advertiser and shareholder "confidence". Upton Sinclair once observed, "it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." So we need to end this before any more people, jobs and business become dependent on this devious and culturally carcinogenic activity, as all our popular modern icons already are.
And while there is an aspect of deniability or random spam following, from my own experiences I feel I know how to judge the difference. I know that this can be and is being done systematically to the tune of millions. It's hard to be sure what's real and what's not. And this is not acceptable in societies based on the freedom of media. Numbers and data, have also a scared quality. We even use them to try and make sense of our Universe. On a day to day basis we use numbers and statistics to form opinions, debate and make decisions. They affect our conscious and subconscious. To fudge them with such gross disregard, especially in terms of our social fabric could lead to dire consequences. The real scary thought however is that, Barack, Ellen, Charlie and the Dalai Lama and many of the others may not even know that their followers, daily likes and comments are fake, they too may buy into the lie of marketing and pr campaigns. Then who is it that's really behind all of this? Are there already a few shadowy sinister bot Kings who could control our minds and media? And do they inflate the system across the board (on a daily basis) to inflate both perceptions and advertising rates? For now they might be just a bunch of young tech über geeks having a laugh and making a quick and illicit buck, with no real organised political agenda. From my experience a dark potential does exist and something is happening. In a democracy, we have the right to know.
So I feel that political, media, religious and cultural leaders have a responsibility to state clearly and ensure that they and their representatives are not involved in such deceptions. It’s crucial now as the virtual world directs the real world in so many ways. It affects our decisions from what we buy to where we go to what we eat, even how we select mates. And crucially it impacts the media and information which we are exposed to.
I really believe in the potential of social media to improve the human condition. For me the Internet has an egalitarian like essence which I saw being perverted. That is why I feel so strongly against the use of fake followers and bot or feudal likes. Especially when you think that they target, trick and impact the psychology young people (in some cases as you as 12 years old) who are sensitive and developing their tastes and ethics. I wonder, how our behaviour at this present time will be judged in history. Will they look upon these acts in the future as a mad barbaric thirst to achieve popularity for the sake of power and money at all costs?
These dark tools of digital feudalism are weapons of cultural mass destruction and their virtual stock pile must be swiftly put to an end. I call on all leaders to disarm from their nuclear phoniness. I hope this can be done before it plays anymore havoc on our perceptions of the real world.
For I want my art to stand for the truth. And if this is too lofty and unrealistic then atleast for the most beautiful search towards the truth.
The tragedy is, why am I the only one who feels like this?
So many ways to end something, but do things really ever end?
Well it’s up to you know. If you read this carefully, your conditioning should be undone. You too can be a Lord of the Bots, but I don’t want to give you any ideas.
Where will you go with your new found freedom, there really is no hurry though you know, just breathe, take it easy, smile. And stop that, stop listening to me, stop listening to any one.
You have won your mind back, just be aware what’s going in it next.
Ankit Love xxx
Really you don’t have to go on reading any further, it’s not good being addicted to anything, remember your mother told you. Ok, I’ll give you a bit more then. After all every great concert deserves a truly great encore.
Here we go.
Isn’t this funny you are actually having a meaning full conversation with this book.
Which in essence is a bot. Yes the books and letters were the first bots. Once programmed their automation carried out all sorts untill reprogrammed by some supposedly enlightened human.
Interesting, you have no need to speak but a desire to listen. That’s a beautiful smile. All is silent in front of the truth is that not beautiful? I can see you you. I can feel your soul. It's beautiful. It’s all the same formula really just different numbers. Remember?
What then are the numbers themselves? That’s a really deep thought to start on. Good Luck, and remember I’m always with you. I am now a part of you too. Love. Love lov