Facebook scamming advertisers out of billions of dollars, alleges science site

Giuseppe Macri | Tech Editor

Facebook is scamming advertisers out of billions of dollars, according to a popular science blog that put the social network’s money-for-followers system to the test.

The world’s biggest social network recently reported record earnings for its 10th birthday, but some of those profits come from questionable practices, according to science video blog Veritasium.

A video posted to Veritasium’s YouTube channel Monday alleges that Facebook’s ad-purchasing mechanism — designed to generate page likes, views and interaction — is full of flaws and fraud.

The vast majority of likes generated by purchasing Facebook ads are fake users, Veritasium alleges, most likely spawned from click farms attempting to conceal their presence by clicking on random pages as well as those they’re paid to like.

Veritasium made the discovery after purchasing Facebook ads for its own page, increasing its likes from more than 2,000 to 70,000 in just a few days, while noticing no change in site views or engagement.

Veritasium continued to experiment with purchasing Facebook ads for bogus websites with no content, which still earned likes from fake users in multiple developing countries, with thousands of liked pages listed on their accounts.

“Wherever you’re targeting, advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money,” the video states. “I wish Facebook would remove the fake likes from my page and from all the others — but that would mean admitting that they’ve generated significant ad revenue from clicks that weren’t genuine.”

The current system suppresses the reach of pages with already low engagement, according to the video, which forces the page administrators to pay again to reach more fake fans in hopes of reaching a few real ones.

“So the truth is, Facebook benefits by maintaining this status quo,” the video said.

Facebook is said to be worth in the vicinity of $100 billion.


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