In a stunning turn of events, IRL, the once-promising social app that brought people together to chat and plan real-world events, has announced its imminent shutdown. The company, founded in 2017 by Abraham Shafi, gained widespread popularity and raised a staggering $200 million in funding, attaining unicorn status with a valuation of $1.17 billion in 2021. However, an investigation recently revealed that a staggering 95% of IRL users were not real people but rather automated bots leading to the imminent shutdown.
However, in June 2023, IRL announced that it would be shutting down after an investigation concluded that 95% of its users were “automated or from bots.” The investigation was launched after the company’s CEO, Abraham Shafi, was suspended for alleged misconduct.
The use of bots to inflate user numbers is not new. In 2014, it was revealed that Twitter had been inflating its user numbers by as much as 5.5 million.
Bots can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Inflating user numbers: This can make a social media company appear more successful than it actually is.
- Spreading misinformation: Bots can be used to spread false information or propaganda.
- Selling advertising: Bots can be used to generate clicks on ads, which can make a social media company more money.
As Katie Harbath, former director of policy for Facebook, “Fake users are a threat to the health of our online communities. They can spread misinformation, sow discord, and manipulate public opinion.”
The shutdown of IRL is a major setback for the social media industry. It is the latest in a series of high-profile failures of social apps, following the closures of Vine, Peach, and Rooms. It also raises questions about the accuracy of user numbers reported by social media companies.
Here are some additional details about the shutdown of IRL:
- The investigation into IRL’s user numbers was conducted by the company’s board of directors.
- The investigation found that the vast majority of IRL’s users were bots that were created by the company itself.
- The bots were used to inflate IRL’s user numbers and make the company appear more successful than it actually was.
- The shutdown of IRL will result in the loss of 50 jobs.
The shutdown of IRL after 95% of its users were revealed as automated bots leading to shutdown serves as a stark reminder that social media platforms must prioritize integrity, accuracy, and user trust. Only by addressing these concerns head-on can the industry hope to regain public confidence and create a more reliable and authentic online experience for all.