Old MacDonald had a click farm ...

Old MacDonald had a click farm ...

This month, businesses that generate fake Facebook 'likes' for money— 'click-farms'—have been in the news again. This time, politicians in India have been accused of artificially boosting the number of their online fans using this contentious method.

According to France 24, there are 4 billion likes created every day. Indeed, if you were to collect all of these likes together they'd stretch to the moon and back an incredible 8.5 times. OK, so I made the last figure up: you'll struggle to quantify likes in this way to be fair. What's more, I'm not entirely convinced about France24's 4 billion figure either: it seems a little bit too rounded to the nearest billion for my liking.

However, what is clear is that there is an unfeasible amount of 'liking' that goes on, day in and day out. Many businesses value these likes tremendously and are tempted to employ click-farms to raise their profile. Earlier on in the year, I spoke with Latitude Digital Marketing. Here's their thoughts (and indeed my thoughts) on the consequences of using click-farms as part of a business’s social media strategy.

Background

In a recent Dispatches documentary ('Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans') a team of journalists went undercover to investigate what’s real and what’s fake in the ‘brave new world’ of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. In particular, the programme highlighted the problem of click-farms in relation to Facebook brand page ‘likes’

What is click-farming?

Latitude (L): Click-farming—also known as ‘click-fraud’—is a practice that generates large volumes of clicks to a particular website or social media page. Click-farming is designed to fool users into believing a particular brand or website is much more popular than it actually is.

Why do businesses do it?

L: Social media for businesses is not easy. You have to entertain and delight. You have to add value. You have to be prepared to enter into dialogue with your audience. It will likely become a full-time role for at least one person in your organisation. It can therefore be tempting to look for shortcuts or quick wins. An offer of £5 for an almost-instant thousand likes on your Facebook page can seem almost too good to be true…As usual, it is.

Why now?

L: To begin with scammers built progr

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