The Great Unliking: Facebook begins purge of fake accounts and likes

27 Sep 2012

How did Facebook’s third-most liked page lose almost 100,000 likes overnight? No, this isn’t a social media faux pas at work, just Facebook’s crackdown on fake accounts and illegitimate likes to improve the overall integrity of the world’s biggest social network.

This summer, Facebook revealed that 8.7pc of its 955m users were either fake or duplicate accounts, amounting to about 83.09m accounts. To shirk off its growing ‘Fakebook’ reputation – something that could deter investors – removing fake accounts became a key priority for the social network.

Facebook also announced plans of a crackdown on fake likes, which some pages had earned by using malware, compromised accounts, deceiving users or purchasing bulk likes. At the time, it was estimated that less than 1pc of any one page’s likes would be removed, on average, and it appears that ‘The Great Unliking’ took place yesterday – first spotted by TechCrunch.

Looking at PageData’s Facebook likes leaderboard today reveals that Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker page is down a massive 96,317 likes since yesterday. In respect of the page’s more than 65m fans, the drop measures in at 0.15pc of total likes lost, just as Facebook estimated.

Another popular social game to lose fans overnight was FarmVille, down 45,693 likes since yesterday. Facebook celebrities were also hit, but unfortunately we can’t blame pop star Justin Bieber’s loss of 17,980 likes on an upsurge of good taste.

While they’re losing fans, there are benefits to be had by pages from the purge, including a more accurate measurement of likes, as well as a better analysis of fan demographics, helping them to hone their content appropriately and increase engagement.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic