Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s lack of a response to click farming is garnering even more attention, this time from Veritasium’s Derek Muller whose attempt to use Facebook advertising actually hurt his ability to connect with fans.
As he explains in a recent video, Muller decided to pay for advertising on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to get the number of Likes on his Facebook page more in line with his number of YouTube subscriptions, using Facebook’s official advertising tools (nothing underhanded). The result was tens of thousands of Likes from people in developing countries like India and Egypt, users who never engaged with his page or showed any interest in it after clicking on the Like button.
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Fake likes drive engagement down
Not only did this mean most of the money that Muller had spent getting Likes was wasted, he found that engagement from real fans who wanted to see his material also went down. Now every time he posts something, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shows the post to a percentage of users who have Liked his page to gauge their interest level, and then shows it to more people based on engagement. Since most of the Likes on Muller’s page are fake (through no wrong doing of his own) that initial engagement level is low and fewer of his actual fans are reached.
The reason he’s getting fake Likes is Like diversification, a tactic used to hide click farms from Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s monitors.
Facebook advertising double dips with fake likes
“Wherever you’re targeting, advertising your page on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is a waste of money. I wish Facebook would remove the fake likes from my page and from all the others, but that would mean admitting that they’ve generated significant ad revenue from clicks that weren’t genuine which then suppress the reach of pages who had low engagement forcing those pages to pay again to reach inauthentic fans,” he concludes.
This is exactly the conclusion that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) should fear, because it cuts to the heart of the company’s business model. It’s interesting that Muller assumes that Like-diversification makes click farms “impossible to detect,” something he’s not alone in, even though he can tell the difference between real and fake accounts at a glance, and can identify the locations of them pretty easily. Realistically, it shouldn’t be that difficult to identify unrealistic click rates and bizarre combinations of interests (geographic targeting would also help, though it could cause some bad PR), the question is when will there be enough pressure that Facebook has to act.