Posted on
September 27th, 2012

Is Facebook purging fake ‘likes’?

Following an admission by Facebook that approximately 8.7% of its users aren’t actually ‘real’, independent data suggest that the social network has begun a purge of fake ‘likes’ across its pages.

Pagedata has claimed that many of Facebook’s heavily ‘liked’ pages experienced an unexpected and unusual drop in numbers on Wednesday 26th September 2012. Texas Holdem Poker usually expects approximately 20,000 ‘likes’ each day, yet on Wednesday it saw a drop of over 96,000. Rihanna lost over 28,000 ‘likes’ along with Lady Gaga (34,326 down) and Eminem (15,420 down).

When the BBC approached Facebook about this purge, the social network would not confirm that it was taking place but also could not offer an alternative reason for the drop in ‘likes’.

Despite Facebook claiming there was no significant problem with the fake ‘likes’, a blog post later disclosed that there would be a crack-down on any activity deemed illegitimate.

“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,” the company said. “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’.”

These fake users have been created by spammers and sold in bulk in order to falsely boost a brand’s figures and to make certain pages appear more popular than they actually are. This is becoming a problem for Facebook as it looks to increase its targeted advertising.

It is believed that the changes have been implemented to provide a “more accurate measure of fan count and demographics” to those brands that use Facebook to advertise their services and products.

Shares for Facebook were sold at $38 in their initial public offering in May but had dropped steeply to just $20.62 by Thursday 27th September.

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