Facebook weeds out fake fans

Facebook has declared its intent to actively clean up fake 'likes' brands get on their official page, a move experts say will be welcomed by brands.

A recent investigation carried out by BBC found that many account holders clicking on the links have either lied about their personal details or appeared to be fakes and run by computer programs to spread spam.

Facebook in its  blog post said the move will see on average, less than 1% of ‘likes' on any given page be removed and these would be ‘likes' gained by "malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk ‘likes'."

The company also emphasised that "newly improved automated efforts" will bring back brand authenticity which has been murked by the fake ‘likes' that brands could have purchased. It noted, quite a few ‘likes' also come from fictional/fake Facebook user accounts.

According to Facebook's quarterly report filed under the US Securities Exchange for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2012, the company said there there are inherent challenges "in measuring usage of our products across large online and mobile populations around the world."

"According to Facebook, (based on that filing) about 8% of the base is reportedly in this questionable category of fake 'likes'," says Ryan Lim, business director of Blugrapes.

"So in the worst case scenario, brand pages should not see fluctuations beyond this average."

However, the clean up could come as a rude awakening for many brands.

"In the case that any brand sees a severe reduction, they need to question their community acquisition efforts and approach," Lim said adding that brands which have supported buying of fans from third parties or creating fake "likes" as a short cut to artificially boost "like" count are bound to suffer the consequences of the misguided efforts in the days to come.

On the matter, the Facebook post reiterated: "To be clear, we do not and have never permitted the purchase or sale of Facebook ‘likes' as we only want people connecting to the pages and brands with whom they have chosen to connect."

Experts Marketing spoke to also added that it would serve to improve social ROI.

According to Arvind Sethumadhavan, regional practice leader APAC, Social and ROI Analytics of Isobar the social marketing focus currently is to drive engagement on brand fan pages by creating "shareworthy" content rather than just driving up ‘likes'.

"Done properly fans can be up to four times as valuable as non-fans in terms of sales revenue, creating fake fans erodes the business impact of social," he said.