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Facebook ads buy worthless likes and this video can prove it

Ever handed over the cash to promote your page on Facebook and grinned at the influx of likes only to watch your engagement stats stay steady? You’re not alone.

Many have questioned the effectiveness of Facebook ads recently, which is pretty scary for Zuck and company, considering that’s how they generate 90% of their income.

Now a new video by popular science video blog Veritasium is adding its own research to the mix, which suggests the fans gained through paying for promoted posts aren’t the type of fans you actually want — because they don’t engage with posts and are probably part of some far off click farm.

Veritasium’s Derek Muller did some tests using Facebook’s own, legitimate ads service to gain more followers, and found that the majority of the new fans are little more than fake accounts, which are likely to belong to people who are paid to like hundreds of pages. He suspects that these are users who are working for nefarious sites which allow you to buy likes, who try to mask the fact that they are targeting certain pages (their customers) by simply liking the pages associated with any ad they see. Muller’s research suggests that this still happens, despite the fact that Facebook deleted over 83-million fake accounts last year, of which 14.3-million were spam or undesirable accounts which violated Facebook’s terms of service.

To test this theory, Muller created a fake Facebook page, which had never posted before and suggested that “only an idiot would like this page” in its description. He excluded countries with known click farm activity from his targeting, but still gained fans who liked hundreds of other pages and had seemingly conflicting interests. Because pages like this have a low reach on their posts (because no one is engaging with them), they may even pay Facebook again to reach more people.

Watch Muller’s full video below:

Update: Facebook has responded to the video with this statement:

Fake likes don’t help us. For the last two years, we have focused on proving that our ads drive business results and we have even updated our ads to focus more on driving business objectives. Those kinds of real-world results would not be possible with fake likes. In addition, we are continually improving the systems we have to monitor and remove fake likes from the system.

Just to be clear, he created a low quality page about something a lot of people like – cats. He spent $10 and got 150 people who liked cats to like the page. They may also like a lot of other pages which does not mean that they are not real people – lots of real people like lots of things.

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More

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