September 27, 2012
Facebook Cracks Down On Fake Likes, Accounts
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
When is a “Like” on Facebook not one? When it´s tied to a robot.
Now a publicly held company, Facebook has to look beyond their hooded sweatshirts and begin acting like a real company, making real dollars and cents and convincing other, real companies to do business with them. So, when businesses and news organizations began to notice that not all that glimmers is gold when it comes to these virtual thumbs ups, many waited to see what the social goliath would do about it. Facebook is now taking steps to remove these fake likes as they crack down on who is allowed to do what on their service. As a result, some companies are seeing their likes quickly diminish, revealing just how many really real likes they had to begin with.
In an August 31st blog post, the Facebook Security team announced plans to toughen their automatic efforts to remove any likes they say were gained “by means that violate“¦Facebook terms.”
“On average, less than 1% of Likes on any given Page will be removed, providing they and their affiliates have been abiding by our terms,” said Facebook in their blog.
“These newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes. While we have always had dedicated protections against each of these threats on Facebook, these improved systems have been specifically configured to identify and take action against suspicious Likes.”
According to PageData statistics, some heavy hitters in the Facebook world have already seen their numbers dramatically drop. For instance, at the time of this writing, Zynga´s Texas HoldEm Poker - ranked number 3 in the top likes ranking - has lost nearly 74,000 likes this week alone. Lady Gaga has also seen her numbers tumble into a bit of a free fall, losing more than 55,000 likes this week.
While these numbers may represent a significant amount of virtual admiration for these businesses, they remain well within Facebook´s 1% quote, proving just how many people truly like Poker and Lady Gaga on Facebook.
Zynga´s drop, for instance, only represents about a .3% loss.
“To be clear, we do not and have never permitted the purchase or sale of Facebook Likes as we only want people connecting to the Pages and brands with whom they have chosen to connect,” writes Facebook. Buying Facebook likes can be seen as sleazy and a dirty way to game the system, yet it doesn´t seem to be all that uncommon. Dan Tynan wrote a piece on PC World this spring about buying likes and found several companies who experienced a sudden skyrocketing lift in their likes, the majority of which were tied to accounts from places like Bangladesh.
Using a script, one company was able to sell likes by creating hundreds of fake accounts. Then, the script would go to work, jumping from account to account, clicking the like button on the business´ page. The BBC performed a similar experiment with Facebook ads this summer, creating a business page for a fake business called “Virtual Bagel.”
The BBC merely set up a page, added a profile image of a bagel and bought some targeted ads in the UK, U.S. and several Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Within 24 hours, 1,600 “people” had liked Virtual Bagel, even though the page was devoid of any real content.
This experiment seems to suggest bots are running free on Facebook, clicking likes willy-nilly and therefore lowering the value of the one virtual currency many businesses cherish so dearly.
“Facebook was built on the principle of real identity and we want this same authenticity to extend to Pages,” writes Facebook.
“We undoubtedly expect that this will be a positive change for anyone using Facebook and we look forward to helping even more people share and connect with the friends and brands they care about.”