I don’t know what article you’re referring to, but I’m willing to bet a- it’s someone with a mailing list and/or b- people were incentivized to click the heart.
And yeah, either could be seen as gaming the system – perhaps quality us no longer rising to the top.
But since I never saw the article in question? Perhaps this is how the system was intended to work. Whether that means WE are being gamed is another discussion entirely.