Facebook likes practices have come into question recently. These likes are something that many users actively seek, although there is evidence that some aspects of these likes are open to fraud. There is a system in place that essentially stands to benefit Facebook no matter what. Whether the giant company has set this up itself, or simply winds up benefiting from it, the problem remains the same.
There are two different ways in which customers are able to buy likes on Facebook. The less legitimate manner is to go to an unauthorized website and purchase likes there. These are sites usually from developing countries, particularly Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. These are Facebook like farms where employees are paid to click on like for statuses of paying customers. Essentially, these amount to click farms, and they can be hard to detect, because they are not limited to a given target audience or geographic location. Rather, many of the likes from such click farms are very widespread, and seem to like everything, which really makes them very difficult to track down and specifically identify as illegitimate.
However, Facebook specifically prohibits likes purchased in this manner. In August of 2012,the company officially declared that over 83,000,000 fraudulent “likes” had been deleted. However, this did not get rid of all, or even the majority, of such illegitimate likes. Instead of going to these click farms, the company recommends that customers pay for advertisements and stories sponsoring their products through them. They prominently display their own “Promote Page” option. But the likes that customers ultimately get from paying Facebook for this enhanced exposure seem to have all of the characteristics of likes from illegitimate sources, such as those from click farms. This, in turn, has led to Facebook likes practices that have come into question recently.
Yet, despite the official dislike by Facebook for likes by click farm frauds, it seems that when someone goes through official channels to acquire more attention, and thus more likes, for a sponsored page, they wind up getting likes that have all the characteristics of likes from these click farms. That means that the likes are from an audience that really would have no particular interest in the given page, or the product that it is pushing. One way to tell fake likes from real ones is by the behavior of those who like a given page. It has been shown that likes originating from countries known to have click farms generally have a far less engaged audience than those from countries without click farms, where more legitimate likes tend to stem from. There are fewer comments and other such measures that a truly interested following would tend to produce.
Effectively, paying for these likes has apparently detrimental affects on having an audience truly engaged and interested in liking pages. This is because Facebook makes any post that someone might put up available to a small percentage of their followers. If that post receives decent feedback and comments, then Facebook will distribute that page to still more people. However, when those followers are not actually interested in the post, which tends to be the case with likes from click farms, then these will ultimately get less engagement and less exposure to people that could potentially be interested in the product than if there is a smaller number of likes, so long as those likes are of the legitimate sort. It may seem like a paradox, but what it amounts to is that even if there is a spike in the number of fans and followers for a page or post, this can actually result in less activity and less interest in the site when these inflated numbers come from disinterested click farms. Paradoxically, that means that Facebook can generate even more revenue from illegitimate sites.
These are the reasons that Facebook likes practices have come under scrutiny recently. Ultimately, Facebook comes out the winner almost no matter what happens, at least to this point. If someone goes to them for increased exposure of their page or product, they obviously get money that way. But paying customers may wind up needing to pay for yet more interest when their audience seems particularly disinterested, even though the number of likes for that page has actually increased. To make matters worse, there is no way as of yet to actually eliminate all of these illegitimate likes, and it is hard to see why Facebook actually would seriously crack down on such sites, when they can continue to obtain profits from them. That means that, despite Facebook officially not liking frauds, it nonetheless has a vested interest in keeping the system that it greatly profits from in place.
Opinion by Charles Bordeau
Photo by mkhmarketing – Flickr