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Since Facebook was launched almost 10 years ago, users have sought to expand their social networks for financial gain, winning friends, bragging rights, and professional clout. And social media companies cite the levels of engagement to tout their value.
But an Associated Press examination has found a growing global marketplace for fake clicks, which tech companies struggle to police. Online records, industry studies, and interviews show that companies are capitalizing on the opportunity to make millions of dollars by duping social media.
For as little as a half-cent per click, websites hawk everything from LinkedIn connections to make members appear more employable to Soundcloud plays to influence interest in record labels.