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Facebook announces crackdown on fake 'Likes'

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Facebook will crack down on profiles that issue fake "Like" clicks on its site in an effort to reassure advertisers that its system works.

"A Like that doesn't come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one," said the company on its security blog. "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 [Not Larry, correct? – Ed.] 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."

The firm is rolling out automated security systems designed to spot fake accounts and Like clicks, as well as detecting some software used to generate Likes for products inadvertently. The company said it won't permit the sale of Likes under any circumstances.

Facebook says that it only expects to have to delete around one per cent of the Likes on its site, but when you consider the numbers that's a colossal amount of traffic. Facebook recently admitted that 89 million of those were fake, and advertisers are getting increasingly concerned at how much Facebook behavior is being gamed by automated bots and unscrupulous users.

An investigation by the BBC, in which a fake sandwich shop was set up and received a large number of Likes from around the world, has shown that the system isn't exactly foolproof. And so Facebook is tuning up its systems to weed out the perpetrators and clean up its data.

Companies do take social data like Likes seriously in making business decisions, and that kind of personal involvement is Facebook's key selling point to advertisers. If shareholders are to recoup the money they splashed on Facebook's IPO, they will need firm data to sell around. Facebook's move suggests there's still a lot of work to be done. ®

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