Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook Goes Gunning for Zombie “Likes”

Facebook is a ginormous site whose primary currency is “Likes.” So, of course, it has a counterfeit “Like” problem.

Now Mark Zuckerberg and company say they’ve figured out how to crack down on zombie “Likes,” via “automated efforts” that will zap the bogus ones.

A blog post announcing the move says that most people won’t notice the change, because “on average, less than 1 percent of likes on any given Page will be removed.”

But I bet that some big brands and/or personalities that have many millions of “Likes” may see their numbers chopped more dramatically.

More from Facebook: “These newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes. While we have always had dedicated protections against each of these threats on Facebook, these improved systems have been specifically configured to identify and take action against suspicious Likes.”

Why does any of this matter? Because Facebook has told brands that “Likes” are the key way to engage with consumers — collect “Likes” and you are collecting people who will listen to what you have to say. So, artificial “Likes” screw up that metric. Twitter, meanwhile, has the same problem, but hasn’t announced a crackdown of its own.

There’s no logical reason for big brands and personalities to collect bogus “Likes,” because what’s the point of communicating with people who don’t want to hear from you, or who aren’t there in the first place? But human nature prompts people to collect them, anyway.

Only glancingly related: I can’t get “suspicious ‘Likes’” out of my head, which led to this earworm, which I’m sharing with you:

Also unrelated: Happy Birthday, Ben!


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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle