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A photographer is walking inside Vietnam's click farms.

Arts and EntertainmentA photographer is walking inside Vietnam's click farms.

The resulting images, which feature in his new book, provide rare insight into the workshops that hire low-paid workers to cultivate likes, comments and shares for businesses and individuals. Latham said in a phone interview that attention is a product of advertisers and marketers with social media.

Jack Latham traveled to five click farms in Vietnam.

The click farms that Latham documented were located in hotels and residential properties.

The popularity of social media in the 2000s created a new market for well-curated digital profiles, with companies and brands vying to maximize visibility and influence. Tech experts warned about the dangers of virtual gang masters operating click farms from low-income countries as early as 2007. Click farms can be found across India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and beyond. Regulations have failed to keep pace, like in China, where they have tried to crack down on operations in places where low labor and electricity costs make it affordable to power hundreds of devices simultaneously.

Latham went to five click farms in Vietnam. Latham visited some of the click farmers who used a newer, compact method called box farming, where several phones, without screens or batteries, are wired together and linked to a computer interface. Click farms can be hard to detect because the online behavior appears similar to that of a legitimate user.

Latham said that one of the click farms he visited was a family-run business, and that most workers were in their 20s and 30s. There was a lot of hardware.

Latham has photos that depict people who are tasked with harvesting clicks. It only takes one person to control a lot of phones.

One of the farms Lathan visited had individuals in charge of certain social media platforms. Latham said that TikTok is now the most popular platform at the click farms.

The click farmers mostly advertised their services online for less than one cent per click, view or interaction, and despite the fraudulent nature of their tasks, they seemed to treat it like just another job. He said that there was an understanding that they were just providing a service.

The perception is deceptive.

A collection of photographs depicting videos that appeared on Latham's TikTok feed is included in "Beggar's Honey" The kind of content he saw being boosted by click farms was included in the book, but many of his photos focus on the hardware used to manipulate social media. The project is trying to document the machines used to spread misinformation.

Latham used the phrase "box farms" to describe a place where several phones are connected to a computer interface. Latham said he found that the recommended videos got more extreme with each click. He said that if you only digest a diet of that, you will become conspiratorial. It happens in your pocket, not in the newspaper, and it is terrifying that it is tailored to your kind of brain damage.

Latham is hoping to raise awareness of the phenomenon and its dangers by showcasing his own home version of a click farm at the Images Vevey Festival in Switzerland. He has used the click farm occasionally on his social media accounts but when he used it to announce his new book, he got more than 6,600 likes. The photographer wants people to realize that there is more to social media than just metrics. Here Press and Images Vevey have co-authored "Beggar's Honey".

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