What are Shills on the Internet?

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Have you ever heard the term “shills”? Perhaps not; it’s an old word, but has a very specific use. Even if you don’t know what the term means you may very well have come across a shill either in person or through written media (perhaps in the form of a review). Are you confused? Well, read on…

The internet is a hive of activity for shills

The internet has changed so much about our lives, often in very positive ways. Of course, there are dark sides to this progress; plenty of opportunity for scammers here. Modern scams and false advertising pushes will generally involve shills.

Shills on the internet

Shills on the internet, much like internet trolls, are people who comment on forums for a particular purpose; whilst trolls seek to provoke, upset, and unbalance forums and pages (sometimes for their own enjoyment), shills on the internet are generally paid to positively promote a product or company though they might also be paid to slam the competition. If they’re good at what they do they’ll make it hard to tell that their comments are fake, too, so it can be hard to spot a shill!

History of shills

The word “shill” comes from an older word “shillaber” which mean a circus worker or trouper who would stand amongst a crowd listening to the master’s speech as he advertised the show. Following the speech the shills of the days of old would rush to buy a ticket in order to create a sense of urgency for the real customers. Their reaction was intended to incite a reaction, and in fact you may still see some shills in open auctions (placed to drive up prices).

How can you distinguish a shill on the internet?

Judging the sincerity of any possible shill is a fine and subtle art, and if they are accomplished writers it becomes even more difficult. One way, however, is to copy and paste their review or comment into Google to see if it has been left in other places. Usually they will use the same comment over and over to up their profit margin and cut down on work. If the same comment appears using a different company name this is also warning sign.

Shill on the internet are unfortunately growing in number, so you must be on the lookout.

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