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The Bulletin

False 'likes' of companies or products appearing on Facebook

Posting in Technology

If you've been seeing some Facebook friends surprisingly "liking" random companies or businesses (or if you yourself are!), be aware that those likes may be fake.

The Financial Times reports:

Facebook users are complaining that products and causes are appearing in the “Likes” category of their accounts even though they have no memory of ever clicking on the Like button for those companies and campaigns.

The recent wave of “false Likes” caused particular concern around the US presidential election, even online fights among friends, when the profiles of ardent Obama supporters showed Likes for Mitt Romney.

Some examples: Someone with no interest in Salzburg, Austria, was shown to like a Salzburg travel site, another person was shown to "like" Duracell Batteries when she hadn't.

While no immediate explanation was available for the false likes, Facebook says there were no viruses or hacker attacks that would falsely prompt profiles to like certain companies. However, there were a few instances of mobile users accidentally liking a button while swiping through Facebook on their phone.

One theory is that the false likes arise from Facebook's recent push to display more advertising, particularly on its mobile apps. A third theory, espoused by Shuman Ghosemajumder, vice-president of strategy at Shape Security and formerly in charge of investigating click fraud at Google, said another culprit could be misleading language that dupes users into liking certain items.

“It can fool the user into clicking on things when they thought they were just browsing for something,” Ghosemajumder said. “There have been instances of brands being pretty aggressive about wanting to increase the number of Likes on their pages.”

Whatever the cause, the social networking site, which went public in the spring, should figure out the cause, put a stop to the false likes, and demonstrate that it has a viable mobile advertising strategy. The company's stock price has been depressed since the IPO due to concerns over the future of Facebook's advertising on mobile devices.

via: The Financial Times

photo: Enoc vt/Wikimedia

— By on November 11, 2012, 11:31 AM PST

Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure