Video thumbnail for youtube video Is Facebook Ad Revenue built on Fake Likes?

Is Facebook Ad Revenue built on Fake Likes?

Antonie Geerts pointed me to this video last night which makes an astonishing, but not very surprising, assertion about Facebook advertising.

We already know that buying fake likes is counterproductive, because Facebook’s algorithm penalises pages and users who have a lot of likes from followers who do not engage with them. Veritasium’s Derek Muller gives an overview of that in this video, but then goes on to explain that the same thing can happen if you legitimately buy Facebook advertising to promote your post.

Veritasium does not suggest that Facebook is deliberately using click farms to accrue low quality likes to promoted posts. It would appear that click farms spread their likes indiscriminately in order to muddy the waters.

That suggests an algorithmic solution, maybe similar to how Google’s Page Rank works.  As Veritasium points out:

“Nobody likes this many things!”

Deprecating the value of spammy likes is one approach, but the problem is that it’s not really in Facebook’s short term interest to tackle the problem at all. Not only has Facebook charged their advertisers for those likes, but when a page’s reach is thus impaired, its authors are forced to pay again to promote it.

In the long term, Facebook’s reputation and value to consumers is jeopardised by this, but if they are serious about addressing it (and there’s no indication that they are), it could mean some short-term pain for the value of their publicly traded shares.

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