Facebook cleans house by removing fake ‘Likes’ from Pages

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Today, Facebook has announced that it  has begun to crack down on “Likes” generated by fake accounts. The clean-up initiative is the social network’s most public effort yet to combat false accounts.

“Real identity, for both users and brands on Facebook, is important to not only Facebook’s mission of helping the world share, but also the need for people and customers to authentically connect to the Pages they care about,” Facebook explained in a blog post. “When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content.”

Facebook’s terms of service explicitly forbids the creation of more than one account per person, or the creation of false accounts. Despite this, the social network revealed earlier this month that as many as 83 million monthly active users (8.7 percent) were false accounts. These accounts fall under three different levels of maliciousness: duplicate accounts, misclassified accounts, and undesirable accounts.

As we reported earlier, 4.8 percent, or 45.8 million, of Facebook’s active accounts are duplicates. Misclassified accounts — accounts created to represent corporations, groups, and even pets –account for 2.4 percent (22.9 million) of its active accounts. Typically such accounts have been created with the wrong type of account, and should have been made as Facebook groups or pages. The final and most malicious accounts are ones that Facebook believes were created with the intent of undermining the terms of service. Spammers and false identities fall within this group, and make up 1.5 percent (14.3 million) of active accounts.

While Facebook estimates that less than 1 percent of Likes will be affected on any given Page, the effort could noticeably impact the Pages of larger corporations with millions upon millions of Likes that have been bloated by false accounts. One percent of several million could amount to tens of thousands of lost Likes.

It’s a welcome effort by Facebook to combat fake accounts, but it should also make Page owners think twice about resorting to black hat measures for garnering Likes. At the end of the day, however, what’s more important is the number of fans that are engaging with the Page.