Facebook is giving a big “thumbs down” to fake “Likes,” declaring war on bogus accounts, resulting in some fan Pages losing tens of thousands of Likes in just one day.
“A Like that doesn't come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one,” said the Facebook security team in August in a note announcing the site’s new integrity improvement initiative.
Now, the first wave of the crackdown is in full effect. On Wednesday, the blog TechCrunch confirmed Facebook has deleted more than 500,000 Likes including those from compromised accounts, deceived users, and Likes purchased in bulk.
Several big name celebrity fan Pages were affected, including pop stars Lady Gaga, who lost more than 34,000 Likes and Justin Bieber, who lost 27,000 Likes from his Page.
For businesses with a brand Page, Likes can equal money and an inexpensive way to drum up new business and communicate with loyal customers.
In 2007 Facebook began allowing businesses, organizations, celebrities and others, to create Pages as a way to allow fans to both Like and stay in touch with their favorite people and products.
“Companies began salivating over Facebook originally because they saw it as an opportunity to market their product not only to a single customer but also to their social graphs,” said Ibrahim Al-Amin, a Georgia technology consultant who works with business owners to help them understand and use technology to their benefit.
But when it comes to Likes Al-Amin says authenticity trumps quantity.
“A lot of people use Likes as an immediate measure of how successful their Facebook marketing campaigns are,” Al-Amin said in a phone interview Thursday. “But when fake Likes come into the picture, it throws the entire system off.”
While authentic Likes illustrate the potential for a business to market itself to a broader audience, Al-Amin says fake Likes skew the true picture of a business’ reach and marketing audience.
“Business owners should be wary of anyone who says they can get them thousands of new Likes in a short period of time,” he said.
And as Facebook has grown, so has the social media marketing business. A quick online search pulls up dozens of companies promising to provide thousands of Likes for fees ranging from $35 to $1,000, a practice the Facebook security team hopes its crackdown will stop.
Facebook’s decision to combat fake accounts comes on the heels of its July quarterly meeting, its first as a public company. At the meeting, Facebook reported a total of 955 million active users, with 83 million accounts identified as either duplicate or fake.
Less than 1% of Likes on a page would be removed under the new crackdown, "providing they and their affiliates have been abiding by our terms," Facebook said in a blog post.