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A bit of an odd problem, but I'm not totally sure where to post this.

I am an administrator for a facebook page that suddenly began receiving hundreds of likes in the past few days. This trend began on July 12th and has gradually been increasing since then.

Too many likes

Most of the likes are from users in Japan, China, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Philippines, and other countries who I know are not related to my page.

I checked out a few of the users. Some of them are definitely fake (or inactive) profiles, but others seem to be real people.

However, if their respective likes are compared, you can see a trend of MANY pages liked recently, including pages in common. Coincidence? I think not.

Given how widespread this appears to be, I find it odd I cannot find anyone complaining about this. Obviously this is extremely negative for any facebook page owner, quality of fans counts far more than quantity.

My questions are:

  1. What is causing this to happen? Hacked accounts? An app with invasive privileges? Facebook security hole? Facebook user "bot farm(s)"?
  2. What is the most effective way to "fight back"? Individually removing and banning each user seems tedious. Setting a country filter seems restrictive and potentially ineffective.
  3. How can facebook really be notified about this? They tend not to respond when applied to.

EDIT:

Another interesting statistic: Probably all of the likes come from "Facebook Recommendations". Not that this throws any light on the problem...

Too many likes 2

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What's making me wonder, is why you are questionning an increase of likes for your page ;) –  Cyril N. Jul 24 '12 at 9:22
    
Cyril, as I mentioned above, quality is much more important than quantity for a facebook page. See 1, 2, 3. Having a large number of fans who don't engage with the page is not a positive trend. –  Natan Jul 24 '12 at 9:28
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Ordinarily I'd flag this as off-topic, as it's not strictly about IT security - more about management of a Facebook page. However, it's well-written and interesting, so I'll refrain. Just keep it in mind for further posts! :) –  Polynomial Jul 24 '12 at 11:14
    
Polynomial, I agree that it's a bit off-topic, but I wasn't sure where to post it, and I know the wonderful stackexchange community is always extremely helpful and responsive. :) –  Natan Jul 24 '12 at 11:24
    
I'm just curious if you ever found out what was happening. Something similar is happening with my page right now and I'm a bit worried. Thanks in advance - –  user22575 Mar 24 '13 at 5:13
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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There are definitely some bots out there, but it's entirely possible that it is real people who are clicking like. There are people who spend an inordinate about of time liking things on facebook, and it can have a viral effect. Some of them are new to FB and have poor English skills so they like everything everybody else likes for no good reason. It's what I call Like Pollution, where your demographic gets muddled by gratuitous likes.

It could also be that you are being targeted in a Like Pollution attack, that someone is deliberately attempting to make it seem as though you are artificially pumping up your like stats, thereby having the opposite effect on your popularity.

Either way as for what to do about it I'm afraid there's no easy answer. FB makes it easy to put stuff on their site but hard to take off. If it were me I'd learn the FB API and write some algorithms to remove likes automatically. It's a pain, but if you feel it is important that's your option.

As for algorithms I'd suggest that you implement some sort of thresholds. If a liker have more than 4 likes a week for more than 2 weeks then remove their like, if a liker has more than 100 likes a year remove their like, that sot of thing. You may end up wiping off legit wipes but you'll at least get rid of some of your like pollution.

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I guess I just felt it was unlikely, given the high number of pages in common with exact same date for when the likes started. Does this point to a larger exploitation security concern? –  Natan Jul 24 '12 at 10:15
    
I wouldn't hazard a guess on that without a great deal more information about your business, your page, and your threat profile. It could be as innocent as a bunch of n00bs all having a like-a-thon, or it could be a like-pollution attack (my own term, feel free to use it) but there's no way I can say for sure. –  GdD Jul 24 '12 at 11:02
    
I don't think there's any particular reason my page is being targeting, beyond my location (Israel). It just strikes me as a track-able widespread phenomenon, but I guess without a larger amount of data, it's hard to say. –  Natan Jul 24 '12 at 11:07
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I wouldn't be so quick to accept that it's genuine, especially if as you say the profiles look fake (and the non-fake profiles could be hacked). Take a look at this article which suggests there is a lot of like spam about: bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18813237 –  Andy Smith Jul 24 '12 at 13:27
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@Natan, you are so right. As with so much in security it is the end user who must spend time fixing a problem that could have been prevented by better design! –  GdD Jul 24 '12 at 14:05
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protected by Community Apr 8 '13 at 15:44

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