Are Companies Spending Money Buying Fake Facebook Likes?
Fakery online is a pretty big deal. Crowdturfing is the official name of the phenomenon wherein spammers use automated programs, or "bots" to populate social media profiles en masse, with estimates suggesting it is already a multi-million dollar industry.
All of which probably isn't that big a problem, until you start spending money to acquire these apparent followers. When a big value IPO relies on your ability to attract that kind of spending, it's an even bigger issue.
That's the situation Facebook currently finds itself in. A BBC study has found that companies are spending large sums on advertising, only to end up attracting the likes of bots rather than real people.
In a further blow to Facebook, which draws much of its value from the demographic information held on members, it also appears that many account holders who click on the links have lied about their personal details.
The study found that many Facebook profiles appeared to be fake ones, created by computer programs purely to spread spam.
Earlier this year, Facebook revealed that around 5-6% of its 901 million users could be fake accounts set up by bots. As this represents a population of over 50 million profiles, it can't be overlooked.
Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos said this was a major problem.
"Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them," he said.
"We know some of these accounts are run by computer software, with one person puppeteering thousands of profiles from a single desk handing out commands such as: 'like' as many pages as you can to create a large community.Continued on the next page