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Buy Friends This Holiday

No, this is not a blog about a certain celebrity athlete who faces ever more sordid but unproven allegations daily, including charges he paid for things.

Nevertheless, this is still a blog about being pathetic.

Close up of someone typing on a laptop.
Close up of someone typing on a laptop.

A company will buy you friends and fans on Facebook and Twitter and even deliver "quality" viewers to watch your YouTube claptrap about the family cat.

uSocial.net, based in Australia, basically sells buzz online. "We believe you shouldn't have to pay $2 per click for targeted keywords on Google pay-per-click ads." Founder Leon Hill tells Flashnews that sales are up right now as people buy "friends this holiday season because they're lonely."

For example, take Facebook. The company will sell you packages of 1,000 to 10,000 fans on Facebook, starting at $197. It's even working on a massive 40,000 fan package. To hit the 10,000 fan mark, you'll have to pony up $1167.30. And while it also promotes selling your Facebook "friends" (as opposed to "fans"), that part of the site is "temporarily unavailable." Hmmm.

Twitter followers are even cheaper to buy. "The more followers you have, the more money you will inevitably make marketing your products," says uSocial. "We find that each follower we have is worth about $.10 to us every month. Therefore, for every 1,000 followers, you'll (sic) should earn around $100 from them per month." The starter package of 1,000 followers costs $87, but they will sell you 100,000 followers for $3,479 (a $1,500 discount!). That's about three cents a follower, which hardly seems worth the time it takes to create a fake profile. You'd have to use that same fake follower for a thousand different profiles on Twitter to even bring in more than $30.

Even more amazing to me, uSocial sells "targeted YouTube views" to any video you upload, as many as 100,000 views for $942. "We deliver real people and not some kind of fake bot or script traffic...there is no risk in having your account banned by YouTube -- and that's our guarantee." They also sell "front-page service" to sites like Digg for $540. "Our success rate for getting stories to the front page is around 60%, and if we don't get your story there, we'll re-run it for free!"

The Los Angeles Times did a story on the companyearlier this year, back when uSocial was just focusing on Digg. Hill told the newspaper that customers included a Darfur foundation, the Korean Department of Tourism, and the U.S. Marines! He admitted that Digg had sent him a cease and desist letter for violating the site's terms of use, but the practice continues.

I decided to check uSocial's own following. On Facebook, I found "Leon uSocial", which is only affiliated with a general business group. However, I did find a uSocial boycott sitewith four fans, who proclaim "PAY FOR FRIENDS, VIEWS AND VIEWERS. HELL NO! USOCIAL SUCKS AND IT SHOULD BE BANNED FROM THE INTERNET THE FREE HIGHWAY OF KNOWLEDGE!"

On Twitter, the company claims it has more than 18,000 followers, "which is now growing by around 1,000 followers per day". I found they only had a little over 9,000 followers, which still beats me by a paid-for mile.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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