Facebook users hit by ‘false likes’ of brands they have not interacted with

The FT reports on a new problem for Facebook where users are experiencing what they say are false “Likes” being attributed to them for products and causes that they have never interacted with.

The issue has caused problems and arguments for some where they have been shown to suddenly like causes that are antithetical to their point of view. One example that cropped up during the US election was of Barack Obama supporters suddenly finding that they liked “liked” Mitt Romney.

However, Facebook denies there is any problem and says that the issue could down to users accidentally swiping pages whilst accessing Facebook on their mobile phones. Others think there could be other issues at play.

Shuman Ghosemajumder, vice-president of strategy at Shape Security and former head of product management for click fraud at Google, told the FT that another possible cause of the false likes is that users are getting tricked into liking things, either by misleading language or a confusing user interface.

He said these tactics can be used to fool users into clicking on things when they are under the impression that they are just casually browsing with no intent to “like” anything.

At the root of the tricksy approach to this says  Ghosemajumder are the “instances of brands being pretty aggressive” about wanting to increase the number of Likes on their pages.

Getting more likes on a page has become a tangible sign of success on Facebook for many brands whose social media efforts can focus heavily on the social network.

One facet that is proving particularly annoying to some is the trend for brands to include user likes in ads, which is something that many brands now do.  However, this is not something that users are appreciating when they find their profile image appearing in an ad for a brand that they have not “like”.

Jack Taylor, a web designer, discovered a Like on his account for aSalzburg,Austriatravel site. He said he had never visitedSalzburg, was not interested in visiting, and never clicked on the Like button. “That really got my hackles up,” he said.

He started noticing unlikely brand endorsements from friends for Walmart, Shell, and Gap. One friend told him he remembered Liking Gap a year or two ago, but never meant for his name to be used to endorse a 30 per cent off sale there this month.

 “I find that to be a very loose way of playing with your customers,” Mr Taylor said.