Facebook Attacks Fake Likers

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via Flickr, by Marc Blieu

In a move many will welcome, Facebook is going after and deleting fake ‘likes’ on the social network’s most popular pages. This action is coming after the site admitted that 8.7%, or about 80 million, user accounts on Facebook are phony, of which a substantial proportion are run by bots designed to spam, spread malware, or artificially boost the like counts of pages.

The issue of fake likes has been garnering attention recently amid Facebook’s plummeting share value and concerns about expanding the advertising market on the site. Advertisers might be scared away from doing business with the social network if the traffic their ads and pages receive turns out to be spam, as it has in a number of cases. Facebook’s reaction to this potential loss of revenue has been swift and far-reaching cuts to fake likes and the accounts associated with them.

Among the pages affected by these false ‘likes’ and subject to Facebook’s corrections are those of Lady Gaga (which lost 34,326 likes), Rihanna (-28,275), and Eminem (-15,420), as well as of the popular Texas HoldEm Poker page (-96,317).

In an online statement published to the site at the end of August, Facebook made clear its position on what it termed its “integrity systems”: “When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content. As such, we have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook Terms.” The de-liking efforts it began to undertake recently represent Facebook’s making good on its promise and helping restore legitimacy to many brands affected by undesirable traffic.

There are many reasons to laud Facebook for finally cracking down on a troublesome aspect of its system: less spam means a more pleasant online socializing experience, businesses and consumers alike are protected from unwanted and potentially harmful interference, and social media influence as a currency becomes that much more viable. The decision to downsize likes for various pages does not reflect badly on the individuals and companies targeted by the fake likers; rather, the point is to ensure that no one has the chance to mar their public image. It also makes certain that bad business practices like purchasing likes are nipped in the bud, levelling the playing field for advertisers and consumers alike and enforcing compliance with Facebook’s terms of service.

On the other hand, the massive, many thousands-strong reductions in likes and fake accounts undeniably deal a rather impactful blow to the stats of well-liked pages, which they may not find easy to rebuild. However, with the sloughing off of fake likes, page owners have a much more accurate picture of just how broad their reach is among real Facebook’s users.

Although Facebook has not commented on or confirmed its sudden purge of likes, it is clear to those who follow page stats that massive cuts to likes are indeed taking place. Perhaps Facebook is waiting for a more opportune moment, such as when it has completed the greatest part of its un-liking work, to make a public statement on the matter.

Word Count: 535; bhive.ca

October 17, 2012: http://bhive.ca/5.0/blog/226-facebook-attacks-fake-likers.html

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