“Click Like if you support our troops.” “Click Like if you are against child abuse.” “Click Like if you love Jesus.” Click “Like” if you want to participate in Facebook “Like Farms” and help perpetuate a scam.
Images that tug at heartstrings and encourage clicks to “Like” come up frequently on Facebook. So do pictures that say to type a word in the box and see what happens (nothing ever does). These posts are almost always part of a hoax known as like farming, a scam whose only goal is to gain exposure for a Facebook page that can eventually be sold for profit.
It is easy to see how users fall for the Facebook like farms scam over and over again. The pictures are compelling, and the captions try to make someone who does not click in support feel like a very bad person.
Most of these pages are completely bogus and are designed to do nothing more than grow their popularity by tricking users into clicking like. The subject of the photo never sees any benefit from the click, and may not even be aware that their photo is being used.
Once pages gain fans, the page owners insert advertisements. When the pages are liked or shared it shows that the page, and the ads, have been seen, increasing the page’s value to spammers and advertisers. The likes and shares also show up on the user’s news feed, where friends see it and add more traffic to the page.
Usually once the user likes the page they never see it again, because once enough traffic is directed to the site it is sold to marketers, its content cleared, and the page started over with a new name.
Although strictly against Facebook rules it is happening regularly. When the fraudulent pages are discovered they are removed, but the magnitude of the problem makes it nearly impossible for the Facebook police to keep up. When people click like or comment on a picture to see the magic happen they contribute to the problem.
The same holds true for those pages that promise giveaways to certain users who like or share their page. No one ever wins because the prizes do not exist. The promotion is just an inducement to click. These sites are almost certainly Facebook like farms, and the giveaways are fake.
Some like farm motives are more destructive. The page a user just “liked” may have the purpose of spreading malware that will attack the person’s computer to try to gain access to passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal information.
For every click there is access to a personal Facebook experience granted. Facebook developer tools can collect data on the people who like a page, and the personal information that is typically part of a Facebook profile.
Users can help Facebook discover these fraudulent sites by reporting them. Hover over the top right corner of the post and choose report in the drop down box. Reporting, rather than liking, is much more constructive. The Facebook like farms scam lives on only because users continue to click and share on photos and pages with unfamiliar sources.
By Beth A. Balen