Summary of Crowdsource

Inside the Company That Provides Fake Paparazzi, Pretend Campaign Supporters, and Counterfeit Protesters

The California Sunday Magazine,

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Crowdsource summary
Need to create “buzz” for your event, protest or rally? Now you can order a crowd from the comfort of your own home.


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For politicians who lack an enthusiastic support base, the practice of hiring fake crowds is a powerful tool to create grassroots “buzz” for promoting a political message. It can generate media coverage and potentially broaden a candidate’s support base. But the benefits of creating buzz through fake crowds extend beyond the political realm. Best-selling author, filmmaker and radio show contributor Davy Rothbart signed up for a gig as a fake “selfie guy” with LA-based “crowds-for-hire” company Crowds on Demand to find out firsthand about this questionable line of business. getAbstract recommends Rothbart’s eye-opening observations to public relations and media professionals.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a company can make money by providing on-demand crowds and fake news reporters;
  • How fake crowds and fake protesters can influence the outcome of events; and
  • Where the firm Crowds on Demand draws its moral line.


Crowds on Demand is a Los Angeles-based company that dispatches people acting as paparazzi, enthusiastic supporters or demonstrators at various kinds of gatherings, conferences and political events. The company’s founder, Adam Swart, was an undergraduate at UCLA and a political volunteer when he sensed a business opportunity in helping political campaigns recruit supporters to show up at rallies. He observed that just a handful of protesters could have a disproportionate influence on public perception. With two full-time and several part-time employees, the company is currently making about $1 million in annual revenue. Protests are a new “growth sector.”

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About the Author

Davy Rothbart is a journalist, Emmy Award–winning filmmaker and creator of the magazine Found.

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