Do you think before you like?
As anyone who is one of my personal Facebook friends will attest to, if there is one thing that really gets under my skin it is what I call ‘sheep sharing‘ because they all just follow the herd, but is more commonly known as link farming! We all have friends who do it and it seems like regardless of how often they are told they keep on falling for the same old scams and hoaxes day after day. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve hidden several of my friends news-feeds because I am done trying to educate them, there are a few that I am also ready to delete! It might seem pretty harsh, but the reality is that they are not just annoying me, they are also endangering my security! These posts are nothing but a ploy by link farmers who are fishing for as many likes as possible before selling the page for hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars at which point the details of every single liker gets into the hands of a spammer! That means that everyone connected to those people is also in the line of fire! If like me you have ever had the misfortune of waking up to find 200 automated posts from an Amazon giveaway on your Facebook wall then you know where I am coming from!
So let’s take a closer look at Facebook like farming.
How to Spot Like Farming Bait
Spotting like bait is actually fairly easy when you know what to look for, nine times out of ten like farmers will aim to tug on the heart strings in order to encourage the maximum likes and shares. The most popular forms of like farming will feature one of these five subjects:
a sick child,
a cute baby animal,
a heroic soldier,
a free gift,
a shocking news story.
When you stop for just a minute and really look at what you are sharing and/or liking you will likely see for yourself that something isn’t right. One great illustration of this was a recent like farming scam doing the rounds which claimed that a newborn baby was in need of a heart transplant and that Facebook had pledged that if his photograph got over one million likes then he would get his much needed new heart. This was accompanied by a photograph of a baby hooked up to various machines in a hospital. You’d have to have a heart of stone to ignore it right? I mean, what if because you didn’t like the picture poor little Timmy was one like short and didn’t get his new heart – how would you live with the guilt? Now stop and think about this logically – according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute in the US alone there is,on average, 3000 people waiting for a heart transplant, but only around 2000 donor hearts are available each year meaning that around 15% of those on the waiting list die before a compatible heart becomes available. If Facebook had a supply of compatible hearts on ice at their headquarters (assuming they have several to ensure little Timmy gets a compatible match), don’t you think there would be some questions being asked about why they weren’t handing them over? Or more importantly where they got them?
This is nothing more than a ploy to get you to like the photo and/or page, which you will then share and encourage your friends to follow suit. Once the like farmer is satisfied with the stats, the page will be sold, stripped down and renamed and the new owner will have thousands of ready made likes. Everyone of those likers are then going to start seeing their news-feed being spammed.
While you may be thinking “I can just unlike the page” the truth is once you have interacted with that page even once, you are going to be targeted over and over by the same group of like farmers each time they start over. Your targeted adverts will also be affected as you appear to be interested in the spammer’s product or service – which is likely to be on the shady side considering they obtained the likes illegally – and you will start to get related adverts. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that the image is of a real, sick baby – probably stolen from the parents’ Facebook page and used without their permission. Imagine how upsetting that would be? Another prime example was seen following the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year when the image of a child with down syndrome was circulated claiming to identify one of the victims. The girl’s parents only found out when friends began calling them with messages of condolence after recognising her picture. I can’t even imagine how upsetting that must have been for everyone who knew the little girl – not to mention the family of the actual victim!
So Why Don’t Facebook Take Action?
With this information now at your disposal you are probably wondering why Facebook do not put an end to this practice. The truth is, they are working to do what they can and will shut down pages that are reported and proven to be like farming, but at present the Facebook algorithms cannot distinguish between good content and bad content so until it evolves both will be promoted equally.
The good news is that until that happens, you can help! As a business user you can ensure that you do not purchase likes. There are estimated to be over 83 million fake profiles on Facebook and when you purchase likes it is highly likely that your new found ‘fans’ will be among them. These sorts of likes do nothing for your business, there is little value in having fake fans – it’s just cosmetic. The only truly valuable Facebook fans are those with a genuine interest in your company. It is far better to spend the time and money on attracting genuine likes using Facebook adverts, social media tactics and by developing interest in your product, but that’s a whole other blog topic!
As the average Facebook user you can also do your part by being a little bit more discerning when it comes to clicking on that like button. Stop and ask yourself if the story you are reading seems a little bit odd or unlikely then leave it alone. There are plenty of websites dedicated to exposing hoaxes including Snopes and FaceCrooks so take the time to check it out. Only share content from reputable sources and think to yourself ‘will my friends gain anything from this information’ before sharing.
If you need assistance with your social media then do not hesitate to get in touch, Tyger-Net Media Services can provide a range of options including Social Media Marketing, Social Media Content and Social Media Management all at affordable rates, with only genuine likes offered!
Image courtesy of David Castillo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net