Ticketmaster Faces Fake Facebook Friends

    April 15, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Okay, marketers and PR types, so listen: It’s very risky to fake stuff on the Internet; you’re likely to be called out. There might have been a time when there was no such thing as bad publicity, but that was before everything was set in digital perpetuity by Google. Today, bad publicity hangs there like a fart on the elevator.

And everybody knows it was you.

Network Solutions LogoTicketMaster Logo
(Photo Credit: TicketMaster)

Remember when Wal-Mart had to fight all of the bad PR from blog-faking with $4 prescriptions*? Well, Ticketmaster may have to fight it by dropping some arbitrary fees.

Or, admittedly, they could just wait it out until the next controversy pops up to distract the blogosphere; you can count on there being one as sure as the sun coming up.

But the truth is there are many truths, and many possibilities. The sooner that is realized the better. Until then, we talk about accusations that Ticketmaster manipulated its Facebook account until it had the sixth-most fans on the social networking site. With 156,643 Facebook fans, Ticketmaster is more popular than Hillary Clinton.

Okay, not so hard. But more popular than Linkin Park, Chris Brown, and Justin Timberlake?

Well, I suppose that’s a matter of taste.

But Chris Carrara, author of EastVillageIdiot.com, says it’s all a charade. Carrara dug through Ticketmaster’s friend base and discovered many of them had blank profiles and no other friends except Ticketmaster.

"None of them have pictures in their profiles. And honestly, Tom Jones? It’s not unusual to have the name of a famous pop star, I guess, but that name seems a little generic….

"That’s a strange coincidence. All of them are ‘fans’ of Ticketmaster, yet none of them have any friends. This seems suspicious."

It all looks very bad for Ticketmaster’s PR strategy, except that on the Internet you can never be certain. In the comments of Carrara’s post, a few mention a Ticketmaster promotion offering five free iTunes downloads as incentive for signing up as a Ticketmaster Facebook fan.

This could explain why there are 33 Kjjkh Jkhjkk’s, at least one of whom are now Ticketmaster buddies. "It’s a common name in Kjjkhkhstan," says David Utter, whose biting wit reminds you not to believe anything you read, see, or hear.

There’s also one Sdfjskfj Sklfjslfk, apparently an Eastern European native.

Ticketmaster wisely refrained from comment. This could be more of a Facebook issue.

A spokesperson for Facebook said, "Facebook removes any content that is in violation of our Terms of Use, including fake profiles. We encourage users to report any violations of our Terms.  Since Facebook is based on real-world connections, users must use their real name when creating an account. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited."

It will be interesting to see if Ticketmaster’s profile falls from its lofty position in the top ten after purging quite a few fake profiles.

That doesn’t take Ticketmaster off the hook. It’s still possible they faked it. It’s definitely possible they weren’t vigilant enough in policing their Facebook profile and promotion to be sure everybody they offered freebies to was legitimate.

It also illustrates the dangers of not ensuring such things. It doesn’t take much in the multidirectional and forever-archived communications world to taint an image already widely tainted by blogorrheal detractors. For marketers and PR pros, it means making sure everything you do is legitimate and being ready for surprising developments. For bloggers and New World Journalists, it means looking at a situation from every possible angle before posting your expose.

*Okay. Admittedly, the PR team faking a blog wasn’t the only PR problem for Wal-Mart. Busting every town in America’s block, lowering wages, and finding every benefit loophole in the book probably had a lot to do with it, also. Here are some cheap scripts to help ease your mind about our presence in your community. Hopefully Kroger won’t follow suit. Oh, wait.

Hat tip to TechDirt and Valleywag, the latter of which jumped on the juiciness, not the boring truth.