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Facebook and Click Fraud



facebook-logoFacebook is charging hard toward hitting that $550 million in revenue number that was put in front of potential investors recently. Of course, their pay per click model of advertising is going to be a critical component of getting there. It seems that there have been some troubles with click fraud for the past month or so which as TechCrunch reports, has set off some heated discussion of Facebook and its inability to tell advertisers “what’s on their mind.”

As initially reported yesterday there were click fraud complaints that up to 100% of clicks were fraudulent. While click fraud is nothing new to pay per click advertisers this was a bit different. Many Facebook advertisers were getting charged for clicks that simply never happened. In ‘traditional’ click fraud (if there is such a thing) the clicks are seen by advertisers but they are ID’d as not legitimate sources thus labeling them fraudulent. Facebook advertisers just were getting charged and there were no clicks.

While there are always problems with pay per click models it was Facebook’s apparent lack of attention given to complaints until there was recognition of the issue with TechCrunch. Many complaints were found on WickedFire and there was some heated discussion including (in which I have replaced some of the wonderful language that these folks use to communicate)

This is experienced by not just those that use 202. When in doubt, look at your raw apache logs – which I did. The result: 15% – 20% clicks never make it to my LP. Clearly a case of click-fraud going on. Tested on 3 different servers at 3 different DCs (not a network issue).

Sucks how high the numbers are today. Its clear the problem is getting worse daily. I’ve moved most of my “%$#^” off facebook for the time being and magically my %$#^ is all positive again. Crazy how that works. There are lots of places to buy traffic, some that will even actually give you the traffic you are paying for. Facebook is never going to admit to whats going on. I can almost guarantee you that.

Facebook is still reporting 20% more clicks than I actually get. This is bull$#%#. If I were at least getting bot traffic or something that would be one thing, but right now Facebook is simply stealing 20% of clicks that I paid for, which adds up to thousands of dollars. Someone should threaten legal action, this is straight up fraud on Facebook’s part.

What really got under the skin of the advertisers is the response they had received from Facebook regarding their issues.

According to the WickedFire posts, Facebook isn’t officially acknowledging the problem or giving any refunds so far. But they are asking some advertisers to send in logs to show the discrepancy. So far, advertisers who go to the trouble to do this aren’t getting the response they wanted: “I was asked to send in my logs so I spent over an hour compiling logs over the time period in question, and they replied with their &^#$ing scripted bull^%#$. I was sooo ^#$%ing pissed, since I took the time to do that and they churn out a 2 second response.”

So if you are Facebook, what should you do once this becomes something that is more than a few compaints? Well, Brandon McCormick at Facebook chimed into the comment stream over at TechCrunch with

This is Brandon on the Facebook communications team. I wanted to chime in to make sure that our voice was part of this discussion and to clarify how we are addressing this issue.

We take click quality very seriously and have a series of measures in place to detect it. We have large volumes of data to analyze click patterns and can identify suspicious activity quickly.

Over the past few days, we have seen an increase in suspicious clicks. We have identified a solution which we have already begun to implement and expect will be completely rolled out by the end of today. In addition, we are identifying impacted accounts and will ensure that advertisers are credited appropriately.

TechCrunch has published an update for this post that outlines some aggressive (but apparently not real subtle) attempts to grab some business from Facebook. As with anything in life it’s actually never about the problem. Stuff happens and in the Internet space that is even more prevalent. What is most important is how a problem is dealt with.

Had Facebook addressed these complaints differently from the start do you think the level of frustration expressed on WickedFire and elsewhere would have been as damaging? Online reputations are just like ‘traditional’ reputations (once again, if there is such a thing) in that the best way to handle any problems is quickly, head on and with transparency. Does it mean you will get a perfect solution every time? Absolutely not. It does, however, give you the best shot at making a bad situation better. So Facebook, remember that when you ask “What’s on your mind?” you have been cleaning up your side of the street.

  • http://www.shoutwebstrategy.com.au Michael

    Fraudulent clicks have always been an issue with pay per click models. Personally I didnt get great results from the facebook PPC model. I do believe that they would credit the accounts that have had suspicious activity though.

    Michael’s last blog post..Hello world!

  • Finkelstein Thompson LLP

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    Finkelstein Thompson LLP is a law firm that represents consumers who have been harmed by large corporations’ unfair business practices. We are currently investigating allegations that advertisers are being charged for fraudulent clicks on Facebook.com. If you have been affected and would like to discuss your rights, please contact Rosemary M. Rivas, Esq. at our toll-free number 877-800-1450 or by email at contact@finkelsteinthompson.com. Responding to this advertisement does not, by itself, create an attorney-client relationship between you and Finkelstein Thompson LLP.

  • http://www.adtrackerreviews.com Michael Baker

    I think the topic has has a lot of press lately and it has been well coveredjust like this article. However, one things has not been well covered and that is how each of us can protect ourselves from click fraud. For example with this Facebook case, it was investigated in other words it is important to track our online advertising campaigns (with a 3rd party ad tracker) in order to succeed in online marketing. I have been able to advertise online through PPC search engines long enough to know the value. The bottom line is that if one wishes to succeed in PPC advertising they have to track their ads to prevent click fraud. This article is a huge example of such a case.

    Michael Baker Top Click Fraud Detection tools

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  • Mark A. Dix

    “The Dark Side of Facebook AKA “Disgracebook,” or “Facebooks Complete Lack of Customer Service”

    If anyone thinks Facebook is “listening” to its members or advertisers or anyone wanting to communicate with them they simply DO NOT know what they are talking about! Facebook ruthlessly, relentlessly, and remorselessly walks all over its members with hob nailed boot polices of culling members from membership for unspecified unknown reasons and then accuses the permanently disabled members as “possibly” being guilty of spamming or “possibly” being guilty of harassing other members because of asking to many members to be friends at an unspecified rate. Facebook goes on to permanently disable accounts that have to many friends, belongs to many groups, pokes to many unknown times, sends to many email messages and on and on and on. Mark Zuckerber says that Facebook members seem to take a “personal ownership” of their Facebook accounts. Well golly gee Mark, Facebook is a SOCIAL internet program that people join to meet and make new friends. Making new friends, at least to me, is personal and publishing real photographs and genuine personal information on Facebook seems personal to me. Maybe you should say in your rules and regulations that we want members to be real and genuine but do not join Facebook for personal reasons and do not expect to be treated in a true genuine caring manner because Facebook does not care in the least about what you think or how you feel. When Facebook says you are guilty of breaking polices you will be treated with complete lack of respect in a impersonal sterile manner and banned from Facbook without recourse.

    The unaired dark side of Facebook, or should I call it “Disgracebook” because of the extremely poor disgraceful way Facebook treats its members. The reason I say the unaired dark side of Facebook is I have yet to see anything announced on the prime time major news outlets about the disgraceful practices Facebook uses on its members. The Internet is bursting at its seems with unhappy disabled Facebook members who have posted thousands of complaints everywhere it is possible to post complaints about Facebooks complete lack of customer service and mean spirited disregard for concerns, questions and feedback from members and former members.

    On Mark Zuckerber’s, the founder of Facebook, Facebook Fan Page Mark states “I’m trying to make the world a more open place by helping people connect and share.” I am glad Mark says he is “trying etc.” because, in my opinion, he certainly has NOT accomplished his mission. Facebook is one of the most closed undemocratic uncaring unsocial business operations since the formation of the Gestapo. Facebook operates carte blanche without regard of a due process of rights for members Facebook deems unworthy to be members of its social network service and therefore, disables their account. Facebook justifies its policy and actions under the euphemism of “protecting members” from “repeated actions that could be construed as spam,” and from anything Facebook makes up as a threat to its security. Facebook is an omnipotent uncaring broadly defined automated bureaucratic security service mechanism with unpublished specific rules that are violated without knowing it. If this is not Gestapo like policy, I guess I do not know what it is because it certainly is un-American to say the least!

    Furthermore, in my opinion Facebook is not a social network service. When joining Facebook you are, in reality, joining a money making “computer program” complete with automated responders but is set up to look like a social network service operated by real people. Is it any wonder Facebook members are treated with total disregard for being feeling thinking real people? I have yet to know of a computer program that is able to feel and or to reason. When someone calls Facebook you are treated rudely and crassly informed to use their computerized automated services which do not reply when used or quickly transferred to an automated answering service to which there is no reply.

    I strongly urge anyone interested to please research what I am informing you of because I assure you the situation I have explained is the truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. Until the media and or business community and elected officials takes notice of and makes public “Disgracebooks” inhuman treatment of people Mark Zuckerberg and his staff and money making computer program will continue to fill up trenches behind Disgracebooks California headquarters with unworthy disabled members.

    If Disgracebook is treating its foreign members as poorly as it treats its domestic members Disgracebook is not only giving itself a black eye it is giving the United States of America a black eye. Is there anyone out there who cares enough to tell the world about Facebooks dark side and will hopefully help Facebook to become a user friendly Internet social service it claims to be?

    Why a business would choose to advertise on Disgracebook is beyond my ability to understand sound business practices. I know that I will not purchase any goods or services advertised on Disgragceook and I urge anyone who has been mauled by Disgracebook to boycott anything advertised by this disgraceful company!

  • http://www.implantingideas.com implantingideas

    Social media has become a rage so much so that even the best companies are hopping on the bandwagon but it has been abused as well, what do you think? Where is social media headed?

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  • http://www.versalures.com Randy Turner

    Face book has been running some type of pay per click scam for months, I watched as my daily budget was clicked away in less then 10 minutes, that’s almost impossible and when I contacted them and explained what happened they gave me some bs excuse that made no sense at all especially when I launched the add campaign went out for a smoke and came back refreshed the web page that shows the daily budget and how many clicks have been used showing my daily budget was gone !

    Don’t walk away from face book RUN !