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Social Fakers: What Do Numbers Mean these Days?

By: Guest | October 18, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is by Hessie Jones

All hail Facebook.

ONE BILLION USERS!

Quite a feat…or is it really?

As Zuckerberg pointed out,“We have this ethos where we want to be a culture of builders, right? We don’t want to overly celebrate any particular milestone.”

Wise words, Zuck!

Shortly after this momentous media celebration, the following article appeared, “Most of Facebook’s Billion Accounts Are Fake.”

This article suggests, although it didn’t reveal relative percentages, only a very small percentage of Facebook accounts were indeed “real people.”

In fact the article goes on to imply:

  • Nearly 168 MM bot accounts were created by Zuckerberg, dating back to 2004 to present day.
  • Most are fake accounts used to stalk, hide from others (spouses, parents employees etc.).
  • Another small allocation of accounts created for pets.
  • The rest are duplicates.

Facebook Fakery

This is not surprising considering the information that surfaced prior to this milestone. Mashable actually had a more favourable statement indicating only 83 MM Facebook accounts were indeed fake.

Facebook goes on to say, “….it bans at least 20,000 accounts daily and estimates about 600,000 accounts per day are compromised.”

Yeah right!

For a company that supposedly sets the social precendence for “ensuring” the preservation of community, as mentioned above, Facebook has more than revealed it’s culpable in the very things it’s staunchly declared to defend Facebook users against. It looks like Facebook doesn’t have world domination after all.

Fake Numbers Mean Nothing

We were always led to believe social media success rests on the number of fans/followers; the number of views/impressions a piece of content generates as it carries across an ecosystem; and the number of positive mentions, ratings, and reviews.

But as we’re seeing, numbers are very easy to game. This article from Whats Your Tech notes, “In a new report, study and survey from U.S.-based Barracuda Labs, analysts say fake social network profiles are at the centre of a vibrant and growing business.”

Barracuda Networks says the underground economy consists of sellers or dealers who create and sell thousands of fake social accounts; and the abusers who buy followers or likes from these fake accounts to boost their perceived popularity, or to sell advertising based on their now larger social audience.

I did a quick search for “buy Facebook likes.” The results showed more than 600,000 URLS linking to services that promised things such as:

Companies such as Get-LikesGuerrillr, and SocialBuzzer are the beneficiaries of this pent-up demand. But services like these only fuel an increasing advertiser coup to stop purchasing ads on Facebook, questioning the true reach and visibility.

In response to this, Facebook has admitted it has started eliminating fake Facebook Likes, “…caused by compromised accounts, deceived users, malware, or purchased bulk likes.”

Top offenders included Texas Hold-em Poker, which lost 96,000 likes; Rihanna lost 28,000; Shakira 26,000; and Lady Gaga dropped 34,000.

There is Hope

For years, Twitter and Facebook have touted the value of the number of fans or followers. Today, that has proven to be a fallacy.

Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter indicated recently, “The thing I think would be more interesting than followers is… retweets,” clarifying a simple measure of followers “doesn’t capture your distribution…the dream metric is how many people saw your tweet.”

This result, as some other journalists have speculated, came about because of the increasing attention to fake follower-for-sale accounts. Twitter is playing this cautiously because they’ve always advocated the follower count as a highlight from the beginning.

I think they’re on the right path and are equating the movement of a message to how many views it receives, how many people share it and how many interact/click it. I argue social needs to go further and track true message consumption in order to identify “fake retweeters.”

But that’s another story for another day.

My only hope is these underground practices will not ruin what value social has built up over the last few years. That would be truly sad.

Hessie Jones is a marketer, digital media strategist, speaker, blogger, and podcaster. Her experience with companies such as Ogilvy, Yahoo!, Absolut Vodka, LCBO, 3M, Adidas, CIBC, Lexus, Esso, Jugnoo, and Overlay.TV, has resulted in performance-driven programs encompassing direct marketing, database management, sponsorship marketing, loyalty/CRM, social, and evolving media.

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61 Comments on "Social Fakers: What Do Numbers Mean these Days?"

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KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago
There is always someone looking to game they system, and it’s sad. I do two things. I report fake accounts when I see them ( and I know of two on Facebook that I’ve reported, and have been shut down, much to the chagrin of some local business people), and I also educate my clients to avoid all of these scams. The only way to really stop them is for people not to use those services.   And it’s not just on social media. there are now reports coming out that some of the “undecided voters” at the last debate… Read more »
hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller What’s scary to me is the fact that it’s increasingly hard to separate truth from fiction.  Even Twitter bots are hard to figure out. There’s a fine line between bot and spammer and I call them both out immediately.

Danny Brown
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller Like rhododendrons?

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@Danny Brown  You should be a comedian…. I think Dandelion… they spread faster and they’re not very nice@KenMueller

KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej  @Danny Brown Oh boy. And of course Hessie laughs. I’ve seen HER jokes….oy.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller  @Danny Brown I can always post one of my jokes here Ken:)

KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej  @Danny Brown The name of the blog is Spin Sucks. Not “Hessie’s Jokes Suck”….

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller  @Danny Brown Touchee!  Can I put an accent on that last “e”?

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej  @KenMueller  @Danny Brown You could, but you’d still be spelling it wrong. 😉

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay  ok, touche

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej HAHA!! 😀

Danny Brown
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay  @hessiej  @KenMueller Then you’d have the damn Americans spelling it “toche”.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@Danny Brown  @belllindsay  @KenMueller Americans do what they want anyway.

KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej  @Danny Brown  @belllindsay Nothing worse than a bunch of bitter Canadians. Hmm. We have a Covey of Quails, a Murder of Crows, we should call a group of Canadians a “Bitter of Canadians”

Danny Brown
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller  @hessiej  @belllindsay We don’t have to deal with Romney – why would we be bitter? 🙂

KenMueller
3 years 8 months ago

@Danny Brown  @hessiej  @belllindsay pfft. politicians don’t make us bitter. they are inconsequential. We have no one to choose from, and we deal with it. I’m writing Gini in.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller  @Danny Brown  @belllindsay Danny, Ken has a point. I can’t wait til’ Harper’s term ends — although unlike US rules, Canadians can vote a politician in multiple terms.  If Romney wins, God help you and God help the world!

stevenmcoyle
3 years 8 months ago

I’m ashamed to report that I am in fact “friends” with a few pets on Facebook.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@stevenmcoyle Steven, does that include Jack Bauer?

stevenmcoyle
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej Actually no lol. Maybe I should send a request.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@stevenmcoyle Here you go. Don’t tell Gini I told ya: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Name-is-Jack-Bauer-and-I-love-food/496686700649?fref=ts

stevenmcoyle
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiej Thanks!! 🙂

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay I like the title – so much more palatable than the first one:) @spinsucks This calls for a drink:)

SpinSucks
SpinSucks
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones @belllindsay As long as Lindsay feels better I’m down…might have to be a Google Hangout or Skype drink though!!

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@SpinSucks @belllindsay I’m down with that! Lindsay!

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@SpinSucks @hessiejones Oh God, I wish. I’m nowhere near ready for that. Thinking about bed already. 🙁

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones HAHA! Love you Hessie! 🙂 @SpinSucks

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay get better! I wish I had a magic wand so we could just “wish” it all away!

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones Me too. Wouldn’t that be great, in so many areas of life…? 😉

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay ok now you’re being vague!

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones Just a magic wand! Make all our troubles go away! 🙂

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay OK, you and I need a looooong drink together! When are you up to it?

belllindsay
belllindsay
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones SOON!! Let me fully recover from this flu. But yes. Soon. 😉

josiecino
josiecino
3 years 8 months ago

@belllindsay gonna check this out later 🙂

AntonsMaris
AntonsMaris
3 years 8 months ago

@LigitaBrodina nujau kāds tur ir safantazējies. 🙂

LigitaBrodina
LigitaBrodina
3 years 8 months ago

@AntonsMaris tā izskatās 🙂

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@TedWeismann thanks for the mention Ted! “Peeling back the onion” is right! Social Fakers is so easy to come by these days.

capricat22
capricat22
3 years 8 months ago

@T_Burrows Hey there! Did u get through all your emails yet?

T_Burrows
T_Burrows
3 years 8 months ago

@capricat22 154 to go.

capricat22
capricat22
3 years 8 months ago

@T_Burrows Wow…ur doing a great job!! 😉

T_Burrows
T_Burrows
3 years 8 months ago

@capricat22 Thanks!

T_Burrows
T_Burrows
3 years 8 months ago

@capricat22 Mind you… I do belive I need glasses now as a result. Oh and printer toner.

capricat22
capricat22
3 years 8 months ago

@T_Burrows Ha! Ur probably right though. O-O

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@T_Burrows thanks Tim! Appreciate it! @spinsucks

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@VoxOptima @Nugenmedia thanks for the mentions:) Happy Friday!

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@martinwaxman thx Martin! I like you worded that! I just hope ppl put less emphasis on the volume of fans/followers when it comes 2 social.

martinwaxman
martinwaxman
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones I agree – otherwise we just fall into the numbers game, which sounds good but doesn’t account for outcome

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@martinwaxman I guess it comes down to the “right numbers” that result in the outcomes we seek. The hard part is properly linking the two.

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@martinwaxman btw, we’re due for a coffee right?

martinwaxman
martinwaxman
3 years 8 months ago

@hessiejones We sure are. Maybe next week or early Nov?

hessiejones
hessiejones
3 years 8 months ago

@PhilTsang1 Thanks Phil! Appreciate it!

jennapettinato
jennapettinato
3 years 8 months ago

@ConstantChanges @samfiorella @ginidietrich If ppl begin conversations with “do you see how many followers I have!?”, immediately tune out.

JonAston
3 years 8 months ago

I think the shittiest part is that presumably “leading” PR firms and/or Brands are willing to pay for fake likes. Check out Shell’s FB page for a glaring example. If marketers wouldn’t pay, the black market wouldn’t exist.

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago

@JonAston That speaks to my point above Jon. Lazy marketers who need to get immediate performance to prove that social works will do anything just for optics and short-term rewards. To think I used to be one of them.

rdopping
rdopping
3 years 8 months ago

Dear  @SpinSucks  , I have not resubscribed and my Google Reader still picks up your new posts! Just FYI. I must be special or something.
 
 @hessiej I really enjoyed this post but it leaves me a little sad. I am not a social media giant but I  proud of the connections I have in the small community I am part of. To think that most of my “followers” are fakes makes me sad so I will bury my head in the sand and plod on.
 
Of course if I notice a fake out there I will certainly hurl rotten digital tomatoes at it. That’s some scary stuff!

hessiej
3 years 8 months ago
@rdopping  I was as surprised as you were, frankly. I don’t necessarily think most of my followers or yours, for that matter, are fake. But certainly there is direct correlation with the larger number of you have, the higher the incidence of fakery. Social media was meant to be niche. There is huge engagement in the smallest and tightest communities. Marketers these days are trying to scale social and fast and that has led to this supply and demand “buy fan” market. I hope it goes away now that FB and some of these suppliers have been called out. But… Read more »
tkographix
tkographix
3 years 8 months ago

RT @MuhammadInc: Social Fakers: What Do Numbers Mean these Days? – http://t.co/9foT2IZu

3HatsComm
3 years 8 months ago
FB – I’ve got friends who have accounts for their pets, though it’s not like they do anything w/ them that would skew the works. Twitter is a weird creature; I’ve got more than one (work vs. play). But I would not consider them duplicate or fake accounts; different tweets, posts, RTs, almost entirely different audiences. Do you kick us off, ban these kind of accounts? IDK.   I’m right there w/ you @hessiej  on wanting to oust the real fakes – i.e. bots, plants, alternate life forms, sock puppets, even brands and businesses that somehow managed to get in as… Read more »
GoogleExpertUK
GoogleExpertUK
3 years 8 months ago

Yeah yeah whatever, millions have been set up by themselves, marketeers and especially criminals with the fake celebrity accounts. Easy way to solve it remove all the people who are not real, make them confirm themselves. Obviously not gonna do that!
http://www.seowebmarketing.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/GoogleExpertUK

marknicholson
3 years 7 months ago

I’ve heard many of those fake accounts belong to affiliate marketers…

MarcBest
MarcBest
2 years 6 months ago

really nice reply
<a href=”http://facebook-buy-fans.com” rel=’dofollow’ >facebook likes</a>

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