Science website Veritasium has put together a compelling report suggesting that Facebook turns a blind eye to fake Likes. But more importantly, in an indirect way, it suggests Facebook advertising products may encourage them.
In other words, if you buy official Facebook advertising, you could well end up with a large number of disengaged “fans.” Many of these may come from countries not within your target market. Others may actually be fake Facebook accounts altogether. These “fans” come from websites such as We Sell Likes, and from countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Egypt.
What is a Disengaged Fan?
Basically, it’s someone who does not interact with the status update you are trying to promote. They lurk in the background, reading and watching, but not saying anything themselves. That’s assuming, of course, that the fan is a real person at all.
And why is having disengaged fans a huge problem to your bottom line?
Derek Muller from Veritasium explains it this way.
“When you make a post, Facebook distributes it to a small fraction of the people who like your page just to gauge their reaction. If they engage with it by liking, commenting and sharing, then Facebook distributes the post to more of your likes and even their friends. If you somehow accumulate fake likes, Facebook’s initial distribution goes out to fewer real fans, and therefore it receives less engagement, and so consequently you reach a smaller number of people.”
There’s a robust market for fake Likes. Italian researchers estimate that fake Facebook activities add up to about $200 million a year in revenue. These accounts will click on any visible company Pages and Profiles they can easily find. The attempt is to make it harder to track the Likes they are actually being paid to deliver. And they quickly focus on Pages from legitimate Facebook ads that show up on the right side of many Facebook pages.
Some of these Likes come from users who have also been deceived. A classic example is the “Pink Floyd scam” where people are asked to Like the cover image of a Pink Floyd album with the promise that something magical will happen. Obviously, nothing does. But now you have done the scammer’s bidding by putting the image on the Walls of all your Facebook friends.
The report does not suggest that Facebook itself is delivering fake Likes when businesses advertise. It only suggests that people in offshore click farms use the ads as an easy source of Pages to find and click on. Muller said:
“In August 2012, Facebook reported it had identified and deleted 83 million fake accounts. . .that was 9% of the total at the time. This resulted in noticeable drops for popular singers and celebrities. So did they (Facebook) delete all of the fake likes? Nope, not even close.”