updated 08:36 pm EDT, Fri August 31, 2012
Spammers, malware in social giant's sights
Facebook is beginning a new push to lessen the impact of malware and spammers on its network, one aimed at improving the value of the site's Like system by cracking down on fake Likes. Facebook announced the new effort in a post on the company site, stating that it will be removing Likes thought to be generated by automated or malicious accounts. Facebook estimates that less than one percent of Likes on any given page will be removed.
The Like culling will be carried out through an automated process that identifies "Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes." Facebook has reportedly been continually improving its automated monitors to identify and take action against suspicious Likes.
Fake Likes represent a big image problem for the social network, which depends on the perceived efficacy of its Like system to drive advertiser participation on the site. Facebook has acknowledged before that about 1.5 percent of accounts on the site are "undesirable accounts" linked to malware, bots, and spammers. With nearly a billion users worldwide, though, that amounts to almost 15 million undesirables.
According to some, those undesirables are in fact driving many Likes on the site, no matter Facebook's contention that only less than one percent of Likes will be removed. A startup called Limited Run recently deleted its Facebook page and abandoned its ad campaign, saying that its own analytics showed that 80 percent of its Facebook clicks were bots. Shortly before that, the BBC conducted an investigation that found that fake profiles are rampant on Facebook and responsible for thousands of Likes, throwing into doubt the value of any sizable Facebook marketing campaign.