A report in The Washington Post yesterday claims Facebook is benefiting from click farms used to boost Followers and Likes, even though the social media site penalizes any advertisers they find using click farm services.
Derek Muller says his Facebook page was spammed by Likes after he signed up for a legitimate Facebook promotional program in 2012. While Facebook penalizes advertisers that use click farm services, Muller says the site is profiting from the fraudulent activity.
As The Washington Post explains “an army of fake followers” can decrease response rates, in effect, forcing advertisers to increase Facebook ad dollars to reach more “organic” followers.
“This is good for Facebook’s bottom line, but it’s terrible for advertisers,” writes Washington Post reporter Brian Fung.
In response to Muller’s claims, Facebook told The Washington Post:
Fake likes don’t help us. For the last two years, we have focused on proving that our ads drive business results and we have even updated our ads to focus more on driving business objectives. Those kinds of real-world results would not be possible with fake likes. In addition, we are continually improving the systems we have to monitor and remove fake likes from the system.
Muller created a video explaining his experience that was posted in the Washington Post report. In the video, Muller said the number of Likes on his Facebook page grew exponentially after signing up for Facebook’s legitimate promotional program, but page engagement never increased:
Within just a few days, my likes had tripled and they kept growing, thousands per day. And after a few months, I had about 70,000 Facebook likes…Now what was weird, my posts on Facebook didn’t seem to be getting any more engagement than when I had 2,000. If anything, they were getting less engagement.
Muller went on to say that the reason engagement did not grow was because the Likes were not coming from people who were genuinely interested in his page. In the video Muller states specifically, “I never bought fake Likes, I used Facebook’s legitimate advertising.”
He created a graph to show how 80,000 page Likes from certain geographic areas where click farms are common – Egypt, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka – resulted in only one percent of his page’s engagement.
In its response, Facebook did not comment specifically on Muller’s original experience, but instead referenced a Facebook “Cat” page Muller created to demonstrate the click fraud activity he says is rampant in Facebook’s advertising programs.
“Just to be clear, he created a low quality Page about something a lot of people like – cats,” said a Facebook spokesperson attempting to explain the Cat page’s high amount of activity, but failing to mention the page that initially caused Muller to question the authenticity of Facebook Likes.