Facebook is trying to purify its name in terms of what a ‘like’ means. It is a form of currency that one could argue rivals that of how important it is to Google for search results to not be gamed. Considering how Facebook and value these days haven’t exactly been walking hand in hand (have you seen their stock price lately?) it looks as if the company is trying to at least maintain the integrity of its product with a war being waged on fake likes.
From Facebook itself we hear
A Like that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one. Real identity, for both users and brands on Facebook, is important to not only Facebook’s mission of helping the world share, but also the need for people and customers to authentically connect to the Pages they care about. When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content. As such, we have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook Terms.
It’s a little bit ironic that Facebook will be using automated efforts since one good technological attempt to game the social media giant deserves the appropriate technological response. Of course, it is unreasonable to expect real humans to check these things for accuracy which is the downside of scale at Facebook’s level but that’s for another post.
So how might this impact brand pages?
On average, less than 1% of Likes on any given Page will be removed, providing they and their affiliates have been abiding by our terms. These newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes.
That’s a pretty big provision considering the number of services that exist to artificially inflate Like counts.
Let’s be honest. Facebook isn’t going anywhere despite its stock performance but in order for that stock to stabilize they are going to need to do two things. Generate more ad revenue and create a deep trust in the integrity of the product. That trust has to keep them away from pulling a MySpace and getting so far away from what their account holders want that they seek other places to satisfy their social habit.
If Facebook thinks that it’s a lock for them to be around even if they just maintain the status quo, I think they would be sadly mistaken. Even the fallout from the IPO has not stopped impacting the business and we are still unable to know when that dust will settle if ever.
Until then businesses will have to make the decision as to just how much trust they place in Facebook and their systems. After all, the heavy dependency on a third party ‘partner’ like Facebook is a risk for a business as well.
What would you do if a service like Facebook or Twitter faltered badly, lost favor with users and went the way of MySpace? Do you have a plan B or a plan C? It’s something to think about for sure. Have you?