Click farming: the dirty side of Facebook likes

14 February 2014

Big brands build fans. So do small businesses and those in between. Sometimes ‘likes’ are built naturally and legitimately, sometimes by paying for them and sometimes as a result of get hit by click farms, who will click ‘like’ on all and any pages in a hope that unnatural spammy ‘liking’ goes unnoticed.

The volume of likes is often seen as a measure of achievement – the more the better in the Social Media success race. However this is becoming far from the truth in light of recent exposure and publicity surrounding the very real existence of click farms, fake likes and sometimes almost 0% engagement from fans.

And the reason? Click farms. Fake likes. Fake followers. Bogus accounts.

This behavior is driven by low-paid workers earning around a dollar a day in developing countries including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. Days for clickers are spent endlessly liking pages, viewing videos, retweeting and offering counterfeit endorsements across different social media platforms. Fake accounts are created, hackers hijack profiles and pretty quickly, a Facebook page can have a largely bogus following even if they haven’t purchased Likes or promoted their page through Facebook Advertising.

Buying likes: Legitimate and illegitimate methods

(Illegitimate)You can buy scores of likes. There are plenty of services offering deals such as who offer 500 likes for £9.99 and 100,000 likes for £749.99. They insist these are real and genuine too, by the way.

(Legitimate) You could also run Facebook Ads and target your ideal audience, rightdown to specifying gender, age, location and interests of users. Thought this was a perfectly reasonable way to increase your following and offer your brand to people who are interested? Think again.

Often, in an attempt to not appear spammy, a click farm profile will also click on random pages and paid Facebook Ads in locations across the globe. This is so the profile doesn’t instantly appear to look unnatural and attention is diluted and drawn away from the spammy liking the profile is doing.

Unfortunately, any Facebook page can be attacked by fake likes and there is no way you can get rid of likes either, so your apparently legitimate Facebook advertising can sometimes fall foul of this. Socialbakers reported that around 8.7% of Facebooks 990 Million accounts are fake, resulting in around 83 Million illegitimate accounts.

Science blogger Derek Muller released a video titled Facebook Fraud, which attracted nearly a million views in just two days, shows a case study of a Facebook page he created called VirtualBagelLtd. Check it out. They offer this: “We send you bagels via the internet - just download and enjoy.”

Take a look at Mullers video for a more in-depth analysis and some rather intriguing Country Vs. Engagement facts

Engagement checks

By looking at the Like section of a brands Facebook page you should get an idea of the engagement levels. If they are low, it’s likely to be a sign of spammy likes (or incredibly poor social media management!). By looking at a few random well known fashion pages, it is clear to see some unexpected results from big brands.


Burberrys fan base is apparently based in Mexico City. They have an engagement of 0.16%

Dolce & Gabbana

D&G fans are also based in Mexico City. How curious! We can see here, with nearly 8 Million likes, only 1.06% of their fans talk about them.

Fred Perry

With 1.1 Million fans, their engagement sits at around 0.73%. Their fans are also from Bangkok.

Further reading:

Behind the Big Business of selling Twitter Followers and Facebook Likes

Facebook accused of pushing fake likes for big brands

Is the Facebook Like dead for Marketers?