Facebook begins purge of zombie accounts and fake likes

Sep 27, 2012

Social networking site takes radical steps to make itself more atractive to advertisers

FACEBOOK has begun purging fake accounts and Page Likes in an effort to rid the site of 'zombie' accounts to ensure authenticity for brands and advertisers using the social network.

The purge began on Wednesday, since when tens of thousands of accounts and 'likes' - a way for users to show support for a brand - have disappeared.
The website Pagedata, which monitors the popularity of pages on Facebook, reported that after two days of the purge some brands had lost tens of thousands of likes. The biggest loser appeared to be an online poker game, which had lost 200,000 likes by Thursday afternoon. However, the damage to its overall popularity appeared to be minimal as it still had more than 65 million supporters.
Pop stars have also discovered that many of their fans may not be real. Justin Bieber has lost almost 50,000 likes since Wednesday and Lady Gaga is down 66,000.
"The move follows the social network's admission that 8.7 per cent of its users are not 'real', many having been set up by spammers who use them to artificially make pages appear more popular," explained the BBC. "The issue poses a problem for Facebook as it seeks to expand its targeted advertising service."
The benefits of taking action are obvious, said Tech Crunch. "The purge of fake accounts means fewer spam friend requests and comments, and a reduced risk of being scammed. Investors will also get a better idea of Facebook's growth because numbers won't be inflated by fakes."
The move was announced last month. "And while some businesses may cringe at the thought of losing so many fans in a single day, a more transparent fan base will ultimately result in more realistic metrics," added The Verge.
Facebook floated on the New York stock exchange in May but has struggled to convince the market it is a worthwhile investment. Its stock has fallen by almost 50 per cent from its launch price of $38 to around $20-a-share.

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