Losing Likes on Your Page? Don’t Worry, It’s Just Facebook Cleaning House

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Losing Likes on Your Page? Don’t Worry, It’s Just Facebook Cleaning House
[ Social Media]

Facebook is cracking down on something they deem harmful to the integrity of their site, and your fans may be in danger.

You may have experienced a small dip in the total likes on your Facebook page in the last couple of days and yes, it does mean that people are fleeing your page. Why have you suddenly become so unpopular? You haven’t really – the fans fleeing from your page aren’t actually real fans.

In fact, they’re part of a subset Facebook likes to refer to as likes “gained by means that violate our terms.” To you and me, that means fake or fraudulent likes.

Late last month, Facebook announced a site-wide purge of fake likes – ones derived from malware, fake accounts, compromised accounts, duplicate accounts, and bulk purchases.

Have you seen a drop in your page’s total likes since Facebook began the purge? Do you think that Facebook is doing the right thing by upping their efforts to weed out the fakes? Would you be more likely to advertise on Facebook if you knew that the likes you may receive would be legit? Let us know in the comments.

“A Like that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one. Real identity, for both users and brands on Facebook, is important to not only Facebook’s mission of helping the world share, but also the need for people and customers to authentically connect to the Pages they care about. When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content.

Facebook was built on the principle of real identity and we want this same authenticity to extend to Pages,” said the company in a security note in August.

Here’s the daily data for the top 30 Facebook pages, provided by PageData. Notice anything?

Weekly growth is still up for most pages, but daily growth is in the red for most of them. TechCrunch confirmed with Facebook that the fake like purge officially began on Wednesday.

When Facebook announced the fake like initiative, they said that it would only result in less than 1% of total likes disappearing. That looks to be the case with all of Facebook’s top 30 pages. For instance, Texas HoldEm Poker only lost about 0.15% of their likes in the day, and that’s by far the biggest chunk taken from any top page.

That’s an example of one of the most-liked pages on the entire network. What does this like purge mean for your business?

Facebook says that it will help brand pages by giving them a more accurate depiction of their popularity:

“These improvements to our site integrity systems benefit both users and brands alike. Users will continue to connect to the Pages and Profiles they authentically want to subscribe to, and Pages will have a more accurate measurement of fan count and demographics. This improvement will allow Pages to produce ever more relevant and interesting content, and brands will see an increase in the true engagement around their content.”

Although most pages have only seen a small dip in their like totals (if any), some have reported more substantial losses, even up to 18% of their total likes. For that business, every advertising dollar they’ve spent in the past was going out to both real and fake users. If Facebook can’t convince page owners that buying ads on the network is going to produce real, genuine likes, then they have a major problem with this form of revenue going forward.

I assume that Facebook knows this and that it serves as at least part of the impetus behind this war on fake likes.

Page owners have a gripe as well. Take for instance this commenter who described their frustrations:

We’re cringing because businesses pay for advertising and so it appears we were advertising to both real and fake accounts and paying for every one of those clicks. I assumed ALL of my fans were real people. This is terrible on so many levels; facebook decides to clean up now and those of us who paid for advertising are down on the number of fans and now we discover that we had already been cheated out the money and the potential clients/customers (fans) we paid (at more than $1-2 ppc) for. I’m not down 10s of thousands like other pages, but I lost hundreds of my fans. To lose my time, and money from my advertising budget for this makes me feel cheated, both by facebook and by the faKebooks.

Although the fake like purge is better now than never, it could leave some advertisers with a bad taste in their mouths.

This update to their security systems will go far to improve integrity, as eradicating fake likes from fraudulent accounts is a nice fall cleaning for the network. It will be nice for page owners to know that the vast majority of their likes come from real people (who can be impressed upon). And the fact that this is an overall “increase in [Facebook’s] automated efforts,” rather than a manual one-time cleanup, is comforting.

But getting rid of the fake likes is simply treating the symptom. The problem remains that it’s incredibly easy to create a fake account on Facebook (or multiple fake accounts) and inflate a page’s like total. And it would be really hard for Facebook to create a gated system that would be tough enough to keep fake profiles out but not so tough that it prevents legitimate users from signing up.

Maybe if Facebook can treat the symptom, and focus on purging fake likes, that will be enough. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Losing Likes on Your Page? Don’t Worry, It’s Just Facebook Cleaning House
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  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    That’s why I take the number of Likes any company page has with a grain of salt. It’s too easy a number to manipulate, but it’s good to see Facebook trying to do something about it. Fake Likes might look good, but they don’t really provide value for your company.

  • CAL

    We’re cringing because businesses pay for advertising and so it appears we were advertising to both real and fake accounts and paying for every one of those clicks. I assumed ALL of my fans were real people. This is terrible on so many levels; facebook decides to clean up now and those of us who paid for advertising are down on the number of fans and now we discover that we had already been cheated out the money and the potential clients/customers (fans) we paid (at more than $1-2 ppc) for. I’m not down 10s of thousands like other pages, but I lost hundreds of my fans. To lose my time, and money from my advertising budget for this makes me feel cheated, both by facebook and by the faKebooks. :-(. http://www.dailytech.com/Article.aspx?newsid=27793

    • http://Lovebian.com H

      I agree with Cal, I used Facebooks advertising for the past year to grow my fan base with little money my small company has for advertising. Refunds or credits after the clean up is completed to all of us advertisers that thought we were paying for real likes should be a given. If facebook wants to have integrity they should start with a step like this. I feel cheated as well and am frustrated that a so called trusted advertising mechanism has now taken my money and business for a run around a very expensive circle of nothing.

      • http://www.vcxch.com Catherine

        Last week I started running an ad campaign on Facebook.

        I received a few likes and clicked on the profiles. The majority of them were completely empty – verified fakes.

        I wrote to Facebook asking for a refund. I don’t expect a reply in less than two weeks – or even a reply that deals with the issue at hand. My experience with Facebook customer service has been one where they get confused who they’re dealing with and then send you screenshots of another companies stats and private details.

        So I’m going to call the bank and ask them to stop any payments to them on the basis of fraud.

        Perhaps then they’ll stand to attention.

        In the meantime, I’m abandoning Facebook altogether.

  • http://Www.osmungifts.com Gail O

    We own a small business and our Likes have grown slowly over the past year. No issues with fake likes for us. On the other hand it might be good to be big enough to have some fake ones.

  • http://twitter.com/cricketrcb Abhi

    Found this article while searching for ‘losing facebook fans’ & it released some pressure of me as i thought my updates were annoying fans & started leaving the page. I’m running a sports fan page from past 1 year and it contains nearly 4200 likes. But losing fans around 10-15 daily from past 3-4 days and it is seriously annoying. If this keeps on growing, it really hurts furthur. Facebook is experimenting way too much these days (irrespective of this issue) some are bad & some are OK! Hope the ‘unlike’ spree ends asap!

  • Candide43130

    Facebook ate My Space’s lunch in part by taking security seriously while My Space was saying “not my problem, and welcome to the wild west.” This is just taking it to the next step to make sure it’s a credible platform for business communication as well as a safe (or as safe as you can be online) platform for personal use. And no, I don’t work for Facebook.

  • http://www.way2earning.com Suresh

    This is really disgusting to see the likes disappearing from the past 4 days. But I support and welcome the Facebook initiative. Unfortunately there is really lot of spam on the web. At least some has moved a step ahead to clean it.

  • http://www.innovanaut.com Rene

    There is an easy way to avoid fake likes on your Facebook page, DON’T buy likes!!! I provide social media marketing services and I would never buy or ask my clients to buy likes from any of those “very serious” wannabe social media marketing companies that you can find online. Just google “buy likes” or “buy fans” and you will find zillions of sites that promise you real likes from real people. To be sure, I contacted several of them and asked them whether they could add 100 000 likes to my page. All of them answered yes and asked me to place my order. Then, I asked them if they could assure me that the 100 000 likes would come from real Facebook accounts because I did not want to get into any trouble with Facebook. Once again, their answer was yes. Then, I told them that I use a commercial tool (that I won’t name here) to monitor my page, and the tool would of course check whether there is any real activity in the accounts, with features to detect if the accounts were real. Guess what, all of them never replied to me again! Although I did get back to them, they did not actually refuse to sell me the 100 000 likes, they just ended the conversation!!!
    I did however buy 5000 for $190 from a last online business without mentioning the tool I use and the outcome was exactly what I predicted. Many duplicate accounts, accounts with different names but same photo, accounts with a male name but the photo of a woman and vice-versa…
    So, this is actually what Facebook is cleaning, and if you never purchased likes, you should not be seing a big drop of likes on your page.

    • http://www.bebepunk.ro Cristian

      I suspected I have a share of my fans as multiple accounts holders, because they’ve enrolled bulk after a prize contest. I’ve even disqualify some of them. All they’re accounts had the same number of likes and all this likes went to the same pages which had run prize contests in the near past. I didn’t buy likes but rather attracted the wrong people!

  • http://www.TunerTools.com Lloyd

    I have two FB fan pages, both of which have lost around 7% the past few days.

  • http://holtermanndesign.com Michael

    I never bought likes for any of my Facebook pages. However, I did buy advertising through Facebook. I have compared likes on two different Facebook pages and found that they have the same demographics. Probably about 50% of them are fake. Most are likes in Egypt and my two corresponding websites have 0 visitors from Egypt. I believe Facebook created these accounts to make my advertising seem successful. The likes show up as numbers but I cannot access the profiles.

    There’s definitely more to this story than Facebook wants to admit. Who else would benefit from this scam?

  • http://www.nigeriansreport.com/ Orikinla Osinachi

    Then why is Facebook selling Likes?

  • http://www.nigeriansreport.com/ Orikinla Osinachi

    Facebook is also selling fake Likes?

  • http://www.funtours.co.rs sinisa

    Thank You…We already worried what’s going on losing likes in a last few days…

  • http://www.seocompany-bristol.com Natasha

    I never advertised my facebook pages using facebooks ads, now I am glad that what I actually paid for were clicks to an external website that I own or a clients site. I would be very unhappy if I had paid Facebook to obtain fake likes and then have them removed, when really they should have been monitoring suspected fake accounts before they offered ads on their website – heck might as well just give Facebook our money for nothing! I agree that fake accounts should be removed but it is annoying for those who have worked hard and spent money on this.

    • http://www.danatanseo.com Dana Tan

      I totally agree with Natasha, except we did pay for Facebook ads, and now they are removing the likes we received via those ads claiming they are now “fake.” No signs or words of a refund anywhere in site. I am disgusted and the Facebook campaign is being shut down.

  • http://www.weddingsforyou.com.au Toni@WeddingsForYou

    I’m glad I came across this article as I have noticed a drop in facebook likes. I was beginning to think that our fans did not like our posts or that our posts were annoying. Glad to hear that FB is cleaning this out. I’d rather have real likes than fake likes.

  • Ian

    Does Facebook offer a refund for the fake likes if people used advertising? They should as it would be only fair.

  • http://www.corknfork.com.au Judi Jaques

    We have noticed a significant drop in likes to our facebook page facebook.com/corknfork we were getting very concerned about this but now understand completely. Thank you for posting this article. Small Business Owner

  • http://www.yourbodygrooming.com Ern

    Buying Facebook likes for pages have been a topic in forums. One keypoint is the marketing ethics in it. Now, the issue is already resolved with this action from Facebook itself. This is a welcomed action.

    • http://holtermanndesign.com Michael

      Only a small fraction of this issue has been “resolved” by Facebook: The external creation of fake profiles. What about the ones created within Facebook?

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Engage 2012 Conference

    This move is a move in the right direction from Facebook. It will help to make the social environment more “honest” and we will get rid of the Fan Pages with fake likes, which are not relevant.

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Danny


    Buying FaceBook Likes sounds quite silly..

    It may look flash, though, would not serve a site(company) in any real way…

    This sounds a lot like the “mass cheap link building” that Google is now trying to clean up…..only through a different route….

    As others have mentioned, you are going to get “Fake likes” or a mass of poor quality links…

    It should also be applied to websites as the new mantra has been “more social less seo dependency”…
    Yet, this may soon put Social in the same spotlight as the ongoing “over-optimizing(SEO)penalty realm….”

    If people start using the same overly aggressive tactics with social, then the above scenario is most definitely a strong possibility.

    Maybe a joint task force(joke) between Google and various social sites will be formed….(end of joke)……

  • http://jefftincher.brandyourself.com Jeff Tincher

    I assumed the reason my company page was losing more and more Likes (an typically the same time of the day) was due to the removal of duplicate/bogus accounts by Facebook. Good to read this article to give validity and allow me to respond to questions I’m sure I’ll get from the CMO. :)

    And as many of you that have responded, I also don’t put much value on the total number of Likes, followers, etc. It’s kind of like when you look at your paycheck and see the GROSS EARNINGS (before taxes, etc) and then BAM… the NET EARNINGS is so much less. but it’s reality. Also, would you rather have 100,000 or more Likes with less than 1% engage with your page (135 PTAT) OR 10,000 Likes with awesome engagement (3K PTAT), clicks, etc?

  • http://getpaidtotakesurveysguide.com/ James

    This is a welcome move from Facebook ad much needed. In the recent past companies selling fake likes have mushroomed. This will really slow down the spam likes and profile creations.

    How much Facebook profiles are fake? Is it more than 50%?? Share your thoughts.

    • Antoinette

      I disagree. I lost 700 likes in a weekend. I have only paid for facebook ads – no fiverr or any other service. FB is telling a story. Some of the people that were already my fb friends on my personal wall were legitimate likes on my business page. I now see them come up with “invite” AGAIN after this last week. FB is arbitrarily removing likes just to give the IMPRESSION they are cleaning house. If they want to operate in a truly ethical way – give us a refund for the money that was laid out for advertising – the results of which are being arbitrarily taken away.

  • http://montazne-hise-on,net Alex

    These Facebook ‘fake likes’ arrived on certain Facebook pages through malware, compromised accounts, fake accounts, or otherwise.

  • http://www.guerrillateacher.com Peter Vasil

    On a large scale removing fake likes may be effective. As a small company owner, I can say that this move is hurting my ability to connect with people. I knew all of my likes personally and lost half of them overnight.

    This past weekend I participated in a book fair where I sold books from my publishing company. There were several people who bought books and later liked my page. Most of those new customers who liked my Facebook page have now been removed. I know two of the people who were removed well and contacted them out of curiosity. They are unable to like my page, which means I need to continue sending individual emails to stay connected.

  • http://www.artmosphere.com.sg Perrie Leong

    I just started my web biz 2wks ago and accumulated a mediocre 51 likes from my family and friends, then yesterday was alarming when my webpage showed ZERO likes but was restored to 51 later in the afternoon. And this morning it showed only 39! It’s really very annoying when you know they are legitimate accounts and you need them badly for publicity. Worst still not knowing when it will become zero whenever it likes! I hope fb can ASK first before they delete, at least notify the owner and give them a choice to keep or delete rather then being a real robot! I want my lost likes reinstated asap! Tks!!

  • Tigr

    I lost my likes, and my photo albums in page too? help me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/KeilahKJude Keilah

    I have a page on facebook that I use for marketing, networking, and I use it as a way to keep everyone updated on my travels and work in regards to my acting and modelling career. People that I personally know keep getting disconnected with my page and there isn’t anything I can do about it due to this facebook update. I think it’s a rather thick idea to just drop random percentages of people’s pages-regardless of whether it’s an actual person or not. It would be an entirely different case if facebook were suspicious of a “user” being fake. But, overall this idea isn’t a good one by any means and it’s annoying people who are tyring to follow my page.

    I’ve discussed it with a few others with pages and we believe it may be time to move to Twitter.

  • Jon

    this article was helpful to find, as I’ve noticed a constant (but slow) removal of likes to my facebook fan page. It seems the # goes up by about 5-10 per week and then all of a sudden a bunch are removed. it happened again today (Dec 5).

    Is anyone else noticing that this is still happening?

    I personally don’t actually believe that facebook can tell if likes are real or not. I have had people removed from my likes that didn’t want to be. what on earth are the criteria? why did they not send a msg out to people that this practice was happening. when Myspace was at its peak, it prided itself in its arrogance of making this like ‘creating a uniquely designed page’ a secret. you had to go figure it out for yourself and somehow they thought that ‘secrecy’ was a neat idea. And then look what happened. I can see the same for facebook if they keep this up. I’d say a few shareholders can too. I’m gradually, happily, becoming a more frequent user of twitter.

  • http://optimosunglasses.com Marilyn Boscato

    So if Facebook is taking away likes from us that our company genuinely thought were real, then should we get a refund for every like that is taken away now? We thought the ads we paid for were being seen by real people. A refund would be the ethical thing to do.

  • Johnny

    My concern would just be that I “legitimately” have two accounts. Why? I have a professional page from which I manage my company page and its ads. I also have a private personal page where I can be myself. I am gay and a marriage equality activist. Though I wish it wasn’t so, there’s no way I can let those two worlds intersect. I use different versions of my real name and have lots of friends on each (personal friends on that page and colleagues on the business page). I hope Facebook won’t consider that a violation-there’s nothing fake about any of it. But especially now that they tell everyone when you simply “Like” a post or picture, this works for me.

  • http://www.Awesome-VFX.com Antonin Ganner

    Meanwhile, the true purpose of this system is seen for real in situations like the page Britain Belongs To The People, who had somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 users, which steadily dropped down to around just 400 over the course of the past few weeks.
    Because any advocate of peace and democracy must be fake, right?

    On a side note, that list of the top 30 pages on facebook is quite depressing to look at.

  • http://www.afterhoursprogramming.com/ Web Programming Tutorials

    I have an impressive number of lost likes to report. After Hours Programming hasn’t been pushing Facebook very much, so we just did a fiver gig to get some serious like. We had over 786. If you were to look at our little Facebook meter out programming tutorial and reference site now has a whooping 7 real friends. So discouraging yes, but Ultimately I agree with the premise.

  • http://www.endo-resolved.com/index.html Carolyn

    I am furious – my site lost 30% of its Likes and I have NEVER engaged in any underhand tactics to increase Likes – no Ffiver gigs, fake accounts, duplicate accounts.

    And I can’t see anybody setting up fake Likes for my Page on my behalf, not for a health advice website – but what do I know – some of this technology is starting to go over my head and there are more and more underhand tactics to destroy reputations, destroy good websites et al, the further we go into this global recession the worse it gets.

    Anyway – what does this say for the usefulness and reliability of ‘automated’ trawling to check for these issues.

    And what will all the genuine Facebook fans make of this now!!!!

    I feel people may flee from facebook in droves after this.

    Getting utterly fed up with the Big Fish trawling the internet with hidden agenda’s for the future.

  • Rastusa

    I am speechless. I lost a lot of likes on my website in one day. In the article above they are talking about “fake” or unreal likes. All of the likes on my site are my friends or people I know. How can their likes be unreal of fake? Hmm, interesting, isn’t it?

    • http://www.barbaraamaya.com barbara amaya

      My likes went down yesterday from around 200 to 70 wtf? I was shocked, because all of them are real likes, from real human beings that I worked hard on getting how to fix this? This is so bad on so many levels and makes me mad, also I cannot find a real human being to talk to at facebook

  • http://www.bigtalila.com Shlomi

    Few days ago I lost 300 like out of about 900
    what can i do about it. facebook don’t even let us complain about it. It seem like we all lost it at the same date.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mustcreateimpact create impact

    how to i get more likes to my page and how do friends of friends see my page? is really discouraging when pages aint growing

  • http://fanboom.net/kaye Kaye Fenley

    I just launched my new page and shared it with my friends. I saw many likes, but neglected to count them the first day. The next time I looked, Facebook said I only had 8! I had more than that before the launch. Most of my friends are from the groups I belong to. Is there a way of sharing with people in groups that won’t get their likes banned? These are real people with profile photos, comments, etc.

  • http://reverbnation.com/rayagnew Ray

    The problem for musicians trying to use on-line tools to promote our tunes is that we think we are buying legitimate advertising that will “target” fans of similar sounding artists. That does not sound like it violates any rules, but maybe I am wrong? My decline was not 1%, it was more like 5%. I’ve contacted the companies with whom I do business to see what they say.

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