May 24, 2024

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AI is being used to manipulate Reddit and Google

What’s the story

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being harnessed to exploit Reddit threads, to promote products, and manipulate Google’s search engine rankings through a technique called ‘Parasite SEO.’

This trend has emerged due to the common practice of adding “Reddit” to Google search queries, a habit even acknowledged by Google.

As a result, services like ReplyGuy have been developed that use AI to create Reddit posts endorsing specific products.

What is Replyguy?

ReplyGuy, self-described as “the AI that plugs your product on Reddit,” automatically integrates a client’s product into Reddit discussions in a natural manner.

The service allows users to input their company name and desired URL, then suggests keywords to help the bot locate relevant subreddits and tweets.

Examples of its work include AI-controlled Redditors promoting a text-to-voice product called “AnySpeech” and a debt consolidation plan named “Debt Freedom Now.”

Redditors are vigilant against manipulation

Despite the rise of AI-driven marketing strategies, the Reddit community remains vigilant against such manipulation.

Redditors have traditionally been wary of astroturfing (artificial online product promotion), bots that do not identify themselves, vote manipulation, and “karma farming.”

This skepticism is largely due to Reddit’s reliance on community upvotes, and volunteer moderators who are intimately familiar with their communities.

Most Reddit accounts used by Replyguy have been banned

ReplyGuy, run by Alexander Belogubov, sends replies from a pool of high-quality X and Reddit accounts.

Clients can also link their own account, if they prefer responses to come from a brand page.

However, most of the Reddit accounts highlighted by Belogubov on his social media platforms and ReplyGuy’s website have been banned by Reddit, demonstrating the platform’s active measures against such manipulative strategies.

Reddit hosts communities dedicated to identifying and shaming spammy accounts

The rise of ReplyGuy highlights attempts by companies to exploit Reddit, with the explicit goal of achieving high Google rankings through AI and account purchasing.

This practice, known as “parasite SEO,” involves linking a website or goods to a page that already ranks high on Google.

However, Reddit hosts communities like r/thisfuckingaccount dedicated to identifying and shaming spam accounts, showing resistance against such exploitative practices.

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