Fraudulent likes have always been a problem for Facebook. The company says that fraudulent activity only accounts for a tiny fraction of all the activity on Facebook – but it's an issue nonetheless. Facebook's been amping up its efforts to combat like farming for years, but it's now touting that fact that it's "breaking new ground" in the battle.
According to Facebook, its automated efforts have led to triple to rate of fake like detection.
"New advances in our pattern recognition technologies helped us halt many of the major exchanges that promote fake like activity on Facebook originating from click farms, fake accounts and malware. When we see suspicious patterns of likes coming from or to a specific account, we throughly investigate the situation in order to determine whether there is fraudulent activity taking place," says Facebook software engineer Huseyin Kerem Cevahir.
"This work has made it extremely difficult for the people selling fraudulent likes to actually deliver their promised likes to paying customers. In fact, over the the last six months, we’ve tripled the number of likes we’ve detected and blocked before they ever reached a Page. Because of this effort, a large number of the vendors that were attempting to sell inauthentic likes to Facebook Page administrators have closed their businesses."
Of course, Facebook cannot prevent all of this sort of fraudulent activity – as the landscape is "constantly evolving":
"Fraudulent activity has always been a tiny fraction of overall activity on Facebook—we’ve worked hard so that most people on Facebook don’t encounter this sort of thing at all. Even so, we continue to adapt and improve the methods we use to prevent fake likes because scammers are constantly evolving and testing new methods to try to get around our spam prevention systems," says Cevahir.
On the side of the page admins, this is good news. Inflated like counts help nobody, as Facebook explains:
"While many legitimate Page admins think that packages of fraudulent likes are a useful tool to increase the perception of how popular their Page is, the likes end up being detrimental to the Pages and admins that purchase them. Fraudulent likers are extremely unlikely to engage with a Page after liking it. Facebook takes into account Page engagement rates when deciding when and where to deliver a Page's legitimate ads and content, so Pages with artificially inflated like counts are harming themselves, making it harder and more expensive to reach the people they care about most."
In other words, it's more than a waste of time to get involved in the "10,000 likes for $$$" schemes – it's actively harmful.
If you're a page admin, you might have noticed your like count take a hit as of late. Facebook recently made changes to the way page likes are counted, removing memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts from pages’ like totals.