Instructions for the final paper:
1) Final paper: 9-15 pages, including an abstract (first page) and a reference list (last pages). The
main content should be at least 6 pages. Due: 7/6/19, 11 pm
2). The topic will be on Social Media. You can choose any topic within the Social Media field.
It is best that you use the same topic as in your proposal, but if you want to change the topic,
that’s fine. （My choose topic was: How does the fake follower industry affect the
credibility of influencers on Weibo?）
*Weibo: A type of social media in China like
Facebook as US.
3) You need to use at least 10 references (at least 3 from A Group and at least 5 from B group).
See below for the two groups:
A Group: At least 3 articles from the following list:
I. Social media or anti-social media?
Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet
Spitting out the Red Pill: Former Misogynists Reveal How They Were Radicalised Online
II. Social media and politics
Trolls for Trump
Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company Helped Shape Saudi Arabia’s Reform Movement
Facebook and the election
III. Social media and change
At Uber, a New C.E.O. Shifts Gears
IV. Giant tech and political influence
Google Critic Ousted from Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant
V. Echo Chamber
Facebook as “Echo Chamber”
VI. Social Media effects
VI: The price of making a living from social media
VII: Social Media and Extremism
VIII: Wk4_A: Social Media
a. Prof. Olson's video lecture.
b. Reading on Information Disorder or “Fake News”: https://firstdraftnews.org/fake-newscomplicated/
c. Reading on Data Violence: https://medium.com/s/story/data-violence-and-how-badengineering-choices-can-damage-society-39e44150e1d4
d. Reading on the Attention Economy: https://read.dukeupress.edu/publicculture/article/doi/10.1215/08992363-2798379/31071/Instafame-Luxury-Selfies-in-theAttention-Economy
B Group: At least 5 articles found on your own.
I. All sources that you find on your own should go through NYU Databases. If you are
interested in using journalism articles from establish mainstream news (such as The New York
Times, BBC, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, World Journal, The Nation, etc.), the database
LexisNexis is a very helpful.
II. You can click on "NYU Libraries" in NYU Classes, and click on "Articles and Databases,"
and then in "Subject-Specific," click on "Media and Communication" and you will find lots of
III. Be sure to ask the Reference Librarians if you have research questions. You can meet them
in person, call them, or chat: https://library.nyu.edu/ask/
VI. Your analysis should use a social sciences and critical lens. For example, if your topic is on
how “social media can be used effectively as a marketing tool,” or “social media can be used to
influence an election,” please also think critically about the impact on the
culture/society/democracy. That is, instead of celebrating Cambridge Analytica's tremendous
profits because the company has effectively helped its clients to sway elections, you should also
think about the political and social consequences.
4) The Format of the paper:
1) First page: Your full name, the title of the paper, and the abstract.
* If you have consulted a tutor, please indicate the tutor's name and the date of your interaction.
You can write this info right under the abstract.
2) Main Text: 6 or more pages
3) Last page(s): References
a) Include complete bibliography in APA style.
b) You need to divide the references into two groups:
i) Dr. Sun's list (A Group mentioned above)
ii) Your own research (B Group mentioned above)
c) For each reference, you need to provide a summary (150-300 words) that can demonstrate that
you have read and understood the material. If it is appropriate, you can include what you have
already written in your proposal.
d) Any references from the textbook that is NOT on social media or any references that are not
from academic or reliable sources will be considered to be beyond the 10 references.
e) Your final paper will be graded for the quality of the analysis, research, and writing.
f) You need to follow APA style. (Please check Resources>APA style)
Final paper proposal
How does the fake follower industry affect the credibility of influencers on Weibo?
Weibo, as one of the most popular social networks and microblogging channels in China,
celebrities, common individuals, and organizations utilize it to maintain their public profiles and
connect with other users. Besides, the social media platform allows customers to find the needed
information about new products and brands. It is imperative for brands and influencers to have
professional Weibo profiles to attract followers and enhance their commercial value.
Organizations understand the popularity of the social media platform among consumers and its
possible impact on sales, which is the reason that they utilize it to their advantage to increase
revenue and product demand. China is one of the largest social media markets in the world that
also has a diverse online landscape. In the current highly competitive business environment,
companies have to assess the developments on social media platforms to market their products and
services effectively while reaching the highest number of customers.
The platform has attracted many users due to the ease of use and information credibility. It is
apparent that argument quality, social influence, and information involvement are essential factors
that influence the credibility of the information. According to Craig, Cai, and Lv (2016), Weibo
influencers are focused on credible delivery of advertising messages and marketing content. Over
the years, Weibo has become a popular platform that allows organizations to broaden their business
networks and expand their brands. Therefore, using Weibo as a marketing platform has become
one of the main promotional strategies for thousands of businesses in the country.
Similarly to Twitter, Weibo displays the names of the users, their biography, and their overall
number of posts (Binlin, Jianming, & Jingwei, 2013). However, more and more users start
questioning the authenticity of the data and believing it was just a self-deception of false data, and
even joked that more than half of the stars' fans were fake. The main reason is that the number of
fans on Weibo is too different from the number of retweets and comments. Take Xie Na, who has
the largest number of followers on Weibo, for example. Xie Na has more than 90 million followers
on Weibo. According to the 39th statistical report on the development of China's Internet network
released by China Internet network information center (CNNIC), by the end of 2016, the number
of mobile phone users in China was about 240 million, that is to say, one in three people followed
Xie Na on Weibo. However, her average number of comments on weibo is only tens of thousands.
It's really hard to believe the numbers of followers. Weibo data fraud has become an industrial
chain, Weibo fans can buy and sell at a very low price is not a new story. If we search it online,
we can see different kinds of followers are sold publicly. No matter you are influencer or regular
user, you are able to buy followers as you want. Influencers who want to rise their commercial
value buy fake followers and use their follower numbers to cheat. Brand PR buy fake followers to
achieve the goal. Therefore, fake followers undermine Weibo’s credibility as a marketing platform
due to the influx of fake reviews and people’s inability to distinguish reliable brands from the
impostors. However, the fake follower industry violates the discipline of social media platform,
which is credibility. Thus, I’m going to do the research about how fake followers industry affects
the credibility of influencers on Weibo.
Companies have an opportunity to attract new customers and retain the existing ones using the
social media platform. The strategies help companies build their brand image and gain
recommendations quickly. Such platforms allow organizations to accrue benefits in a short span
of time with minimal investment. On Weibo, a company has an opportunity to increase the number
of followers with the help of appealing posts and proper customer interaction. Although companies
can assess their influence using the available analytics, zombie followers can interfere with the
results of the findings. (Viviani & Pasi, 2017) In most instances, zombie followers create fake
Weibo accounts and send their accounts to the users who want to increase their popularity either
for personal or commercial purposes.
Zombie followers in China have created an outstanding micro-economy in the marketing area. As
a result, some users pay a small fee to attract more followers to their social media page. Zombie
followers raise the status of the users even without getting involved in any form of microblog
discussions (Voorveld, 2019). It is apparent that the increase of zombie followers is a simple
exercise, which increases the number of accounts with fake email addresses and names. Therefore,
it is important to utilize a detection approach to identify if a social media account has any zombie
Most people in China are active internet users who conduct research and purchase their preferable
services and goods online. Therefore, the country has the potential to grow and expand as a result
of online development. Most Chinese recognize Weibo as the immediate and dynamic social media
platform that offers numerous business opportunities (Binlin et al., 2013). However, some of the
brands struggle to understand the Chinese market and assess local trends. Therefore, organizations
should recognize the relevance of advertisement for customers in both local and global markets.
Weibo users can post short messages on the platform, including videos and pictures. Similarly to
Twitter, the users can use hashtags to post and repost their content. Organizations can also create
polls to understand the opinions of their followers and collect the needed feedback.
One of the unique aspects of Weibo is that it facilitates instantaneous and quick sharing of ideas
and attracts mobile users. However, businesses and individuals alike have to utilize special
expertise in assessing online discussions about their brands. Weibo has become one of the most
prominent micro-blogging platforms across the country. The users of the social media platforms
have a chance of uploading videos, images, and gifts on their network. According to Yang et al.
(2019), one of the unique aspects of Weibo is sharing functionality that makes the platform an
important source of information. Over the years, organizations have also realized the importance
of using celebrities to increase public awareness about their products and increase the sales.
Therefore, brand names often associate themselves with public figures to showcase their credibility
and remain relevant in the Chinese market.
Weibo is one of the most popular social media platforms in China. Companies utilize it frequently
to increase brand awareness and attract more customers. Besides, individual users utilize Weibo
as a platform for interaction and exchange of ideas. In every social network analysis, social
network users have some common characteristics. Although the expansion of the Internet over the
years has been highly beneficial for the society, the trend led to the emergence of zombie followers.
“Zombie followers” on Weibo have created a micro-economy in China that allows users to
undermine the credibility of online information and share misleading data about non-existent
products. Therefore, it is imperative to use effective detection methods to identify fake users on
the social media platform and close their accounts to prevent further spread of misinformation.
Binlin, C., Jianming, F., & Jingwei, H. (2013). Detecting zombie followers in China microblog
based on the number of common friends. International Journal of Advancements in
Computing Technology, 5(2).
Craig, D., Cai, H., & Lv, J. (2016). Mapping and Managing Chinese Social Media Entertainment:
A Conversation with Heng Cai, Chinese Media Entrepreneur. International Journal of
Communication (19328036), 10.
Viviani, M., & Pasi, G. (2017). Credibility in social media: opinions, news, and health
information—a survey. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Data Mining and Knowledge
Discovery, 7(5), e1209.
Voorveld, H. A. (2019). Brand Communication in Social Media: A Research Agenda. Journal of
Advertising, 48(1), 14-26.
Yang, K. C., Varol, O., Davis, C. A., Ferrara, E., Flammini, A., & Menczer, F. (2019). Arming the
public with artificial intelligence to counter social bots. Human Behavior and Emerging
Technologies, 1(1), 48-61.
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