Facebook Dislikes Phony Likes, Tries to Purge Them
Social media becoming engulfed in paid content?
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
We all know that lots of people "like" a lot of things on Facebook. But do they really like them like them? And are there really real people doing all this liking.
It might all seem kind of silly, like a couple of pre-teen girls giggling about whether a certain dreamboat really likes them likes them or just plain old likes them.
And in fact, it is all kind of silly. Who cares how many supposed louts like one type of beer compared to another?
On the other hand, we can't just admit that this is all pretty silly, especially since so much that Facebook has done lately has turned out be even worse than silly. So Facebook has resolved to do something about phony "likes," meaning those generated by malware, fake accounts and bulk buying services.
This is sort of like Google trying to root out all the sites that spam its search engine through the use of deceptive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics, as opposed to legitimate SEO tactics. Sure, it can be a little hard to tell the difference, but it all comes down to protecting the brand, as they say in Marketing 101.
After all, if nothing on Google or Facebook or Twitter can be trusted, where does that leave Western Civilization? Or social media?
It is always, of course, debatable how much any of the drama surrounding IPOs, class action lawsuits, regulatory actions and so forth mean to consumers. We analyzed more than 91 million comments about Facebook on various social media over the last year and found it maintaining a rather mediocre positive rating in the mid-20% range.
Counting the cards
Today, the results of Facebook's efforts are being tallied up by those keenly observant analysts who spend all day staring at their computer screens. It's quite possible no one else has noticed but at least no one can say Facebook isn't trying.
The trade journal eCommerce Times reports that among the big losers is Texas HoldEm Poker, which lost more than 103,000 likes while Eminem lost more than 17,000.
Back in the bad old days when people read ink squiggles on dead trees, it was headline writers who were lambasted for writing headlines that were "just designed to sell newspapers," as critics in that dim time had it.
Today, it's the algorithmic wizards who claim they can reverse-engineer the inner workings of the search engines and social media sites. The actual content of the tweets, sites, pages, likes, etc. are beside the point, it's how the whole mess gets assembled that supposedly affects its ranking in the search engines and its prominence on social sites.
There is a difference, of course. There were actual news stories underneath those headlines and, believe or not, they were written by lowly scribes who could not give less of a damn whether the publisher managed to sell any newspapers that day. Today, there is often no content to speak of, just manipulation.
Over time, this erodes consumer confidence in social media and search engines. If everything that appears "real" is actually a disguised commercial, eyeballs eventually drift off towards something that appears a bit more legitimate.
So what does this purge mean for average consumers? It may mean you can put a little more trust in the whole "like" phenomenon -- and it may also mean that when you choose to like or tweet or post about something you think is important, you have a better chance of being noticed and having a little influence, however fleeting.
And that, now that you mention it, is pretty important.