We’ve all heard of sweatshops filled with workers mining away in MMOs to sell items. However, the age of social media has made for a new type of techno-sweatshop: Chinese Influencer Farms.
As influencer shopping networks take off on apps like TikTok and other streaming services, new influencers need to be trained to keep sales high. As it turns out, huge influencer farms are now commonplace in China, training young women to sell products under poor conditions and even poorer pay.
Training in Chinese Influencer Farms
In recent weeks, footage has been released online of Chinese Influencer Farms that train young women to produce livestream content. These influencers could be pretty women attempting to get fans to send in gifts, which can be cashed out for money, or are the faces of shopping networks.
While more far prominent and popular, women are not alone in this industry. In fact, several men are also trained to be influencers in the exact same ways. However, they are far less common online.
In one video, a huge row of trainee influencers are seen in an otherwise empty warehouse. In front of them is a phone and a ring light as they practice streaming. It’s a grim-dark realisation of how profitable and exploitable social media has become.
However, this is only the first part of these “influencer’s” journeys. Afterwards, they start to farm content either at the office or at home.
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The content farms
Scrolling through the dredge that is TikTok Live will surely put you face-to-face with this brand of content creator. Even if you don’t fuel the algorithm, you’ll see at least one of them eventually.
All of the “influencers” follow the same formula, throughout multiple categories. Some are ladies scrolling through TikTok, asking for gifts for them to follow back. Others are simply a shopping channel, selling items and collecting orders at the same time.
In some cases, there are more egregious examples. Some channels feature women standing in huge piles of toys as a second influencer commentates orders. As the stream goes on, more toys are thrown at the woman to add to the pile.
These TikTok influencers are part of another gear of the dystopian workhorse. Just like a sweatshop, these influencers are worked for long hours to sell product, shouting on camera for meagre pay. Sure, it’s not the worst job in the world, but it’s far from ideal.