Facebook tries to keep it real by killing more 'fake' likes

The company has improved its technology for detecting suspicious patterns of likes

Facebook has tripled its detection and elimination of "fake" likes, which can artificially inflate a brand's prominence on the site and deceive users, the company said on Friday.

Facebook began improving its processes for eliminating fake likes this past October. They're a real problem for the site, because they can trick a page owner or business into thinking they're more popular on Facebook than they really are, fooling regular users along the way.

Fraudulent likes originate from click farms, fake accounts and malware, and are sold to page owners who want to boost their exposure on Facebook. But in reality they don't do much to win them actual customers, fans or increased sales.

By improving its technology for detecting suspicious patterns of likes, Facebook has tripled the number of fake likes it detects and blocks before reaching a page, the company said in a blog post.

As a result, many vendors that were attempting to sell inauthentic likes to Facebook page owners have closed their businesses, Facebook said.

Facebook began notifying page owners of instances when it blocks or removes fake likes from their pages last month. Since then, Facebook has notified 200,000 page owners, the company said. Facebook did not say exactly how many fake likes it has removed.

The selling of fake likes speaks to a larger challenge some brands and smaller businesses have on Facebook: how best to grow their business on the site and not get lost in the noise. Instead of focusing on likes, Facebook says brands should focus on specific business objectives, such as increasing app downloads, or increasing clicks to their company's website. These goals can be accomplished, not surprisingly, through ads.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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