Just a day back, we saw news of Instagram getting aggressive and shutting down popular bot sites like Instagress and Mass Planner. And now, right on the heels comes news of Thailand police busting a complete clickfarm in the country. The clickfarm was operated by three men who claimed to be hired by unnamed Chinese business to create fake profiles and bots on the popular WhatsApp alternative in the country — WeChat. Also Read - iPhone 12 Mini reaches end of production already, say rumoursAlso Read - Flipkart Mobiles Bonanza sale top deals: iPhone SE, Poco X3 Pro and more on discount
As per reports in Bangkok Post, the men running the clickfarm operation were illegal immigrants and have charges of fraud and smuggling on them. The clickfarm operated close to the Thailand border, near Cambodia. The three Chinese men arrested were named Wang Dong, Niu Bang, and Ni Wenjin. When police broke into the house, the number of electronics made them suspect an unauthorized and illegal call center. However, they soon figured it was a clickfarm business in operation. Also Read - Beware! This new iOS bug breaks WiFi on iPhones: Here's a quick fix for it
Inside the house were multiple metal racks all lined up with Apple iPhones. There were mainly older models like Apple iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. A total of 474 iPhones were seized from the home. All the iPhones were connected to a computer terminal and there were a total of 10 computers and multiple other laptops and gadgets seized. The police also found nearly 300,000 unused SIM cards, used to create fake accounts and operate the system. As per details provided by the men, the accessories were used to create fake WeChat accounts and populate the network. ALSO READ: WeChat launches new feature to fight fake news
The Chinese workers earned roughly 50,000 baht (approximately Rs 95,000) per month to create and operate fake WeChat accounts. The reason the business was based in Thailand and not in China was the cheap data and call costs coupled with ease of operation and high speeds. Apart from their illegal status in the country, the phones used were smuggled and the police have launched an inquiry into it. Additionally, as the country requires SIM cards to be registered before activation, the possession of valid SIM cards has also led to the police questioning their motives further.
With over 700 million monthly users, WeChat is extremely popular as both, a social media platform and a messenger in the country. However, the problem of bots and clickfarms is not WeChat’s alone with all social media sites facing the issue. While clickfarms are legal and authorized in many regions and many businesses legally use bots to keep connected to their customers and followers, in Thailand they are banned. With more social media channels now getting aware of the issue and taking up the matter aggressively.