Facebook Ads: What Are You Really Paying For?

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EDIT: Search Engine Journal has since conducted its case study, which you can read more of here: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/paying-likes-facebook-worth-case-study-search-engine-journal-exclusive/88111/

EDIT: Derek Muller, of Veritasium, just released a video that details his experiments into Facebook Ads for Likes, which had almost the exact same results that we found over a year and half ago in this study below. See his video below:

About three weeks ago, I ran an ad campaign on Facebook for a fanpage that resulted in an increase of Likes from 100 to around 900. Success!

…or so I thought. After a week of posting content designed to engage the new audience and attract more new followers, the individual post Likes were averaging the same totals as prior to the campaign.

This was frustrating. My initial reaction was, “Hmm, maybe these ad-generated “Likes” that I’m getting are fake,” but all I had to go on was a few weeks’ worth of data and a hunch. That’s when I brought it up to Brent Csutoras of Kairay Media over a cup of coffee.

We came to the conclusion that there’s no way Facebook would stoop to generating fake Likes because of the enormous liabilities that would ensue. We blew it off and didn’t talk much about it again.

Then a bunch of articles came out last week covering a BBC investigation that alleges Facebook ad-generated Likes are not real: see money.msn.com, dailydot.com, and techcrunch.com.

After a second conversation with Brent this past weekend, together we decided to take a closer look at a number of Facebook ad campaigns which had low enough Like numbers to spot anomalies.

At first glance, the followers seem to be genuine. Most of them have profile pictures, cover photos, history, and activity levels. Then we found some interesting profiles like “Hilton,” who shows no activity except answering hundreds of Facebook polls and surveys.

Yet other profiles hadn’t had updates in more than a month, and a handful actually had no profile info at all, but these same accounts were extremely active, on a daily basis in some cases, at Liking Facebook pages. A pervasive red flag was that these profiles did not seem to have any discernible connection or affinity for the Facebook pages being advertised.

When we got into the actual Likes of these profiles, we started to see where the potential fraud was happening. These particular accounts all seemed to have an enormous number of Likes, with many totaling more than 10,000 and at a “Liking” rate of more than 500 a month.

In the first two weeks of July 2012, the profile below had accumulated more than 750 Likes:

These users seem to hit just about every Facebook page in existence, with sometimes five or more Likes in a single minute.

We found lots of profiles with the same pattern:


With this additional data from above compared against the BBC study, we are much more confident that something is going on with Facebook ads. But what exactly is it?

Here are a few theories we tossed around:

#1 Facebook is generating fake Likes through their ad network.

This obviously would have major negative backlash for Facebook, which just two months ago had the third largest IPO in history. There’s a lot for them to lose if this was discovered, but advertising viability is commonly listed as the number one concern for both the company and for shareholders.

#2 “Like” generating networks, similar to what you would find on fiverr.com, are using bots or compromised accounts in order to diversify their activity history and avoid getting banned.

It is a known tactic for spammers and bot writers to imitate behavior that makes the profile look more diversified and natural-looking in order to avoid detection and mass removal or account bans.

#3 Someone is using 3rd-party apps or compromised accounts to abuse the Facebook ads system in order to hurt Facebook, the company.

Hacker organizations like Anonymous have been rumored to be looking for ways to hurt Facebook, even though they deny it. It’s not unreasonable to believe a group might be out there working together to damage the credibility of Facebook’s only source of revenue.

Our Conclusion

We believe it is #2: someone or a group of someones is utilizing bot networks and compromised accounts to sell actions in Facebook, and the voluminous Liking is a byproduct of attempting to randomize any patterns that would identify their core network or their customers.

Last week’s Gizmodo article on bought Twitter followers adds some related credence to this theory. The Twitter followers are added through bot networks and compromised accounts.

It doesn’t help that Facebook doesn’t appear to be taking the allegations seriously. So far they have only responded that “We’ve not seen evidence of a significant problem. Neither has it been raised by the many advertisers who are enjoying positive results from using Facebook.”

In Facebook’s defense on the issue, the BBC study indicated only $10 was spent to garner 1,600 Likes in 24 hours, which would be less than $.01 per Like. Anyone running Facebook ads knows that you are never getting clicks that cheap and in that volume for that price.

The same is evident in one of our campaigns, although the initial one mentioned above was much worse. For example, when a fanpage received ~100 new Likes during a Facebook ad campaign, only 18 were a direct result of the ad itself.

So is Facebook aware that this is going on, but is turning a blind eye because these fraudulent, bot-created Likes are not being procured via the Facebook ad network?

Have you seen any trends like this lately with your ad campaigns? If so, please comment below. I’d love to hear about them and any additional theories that might be out there.

Jake Filan
Jake Filan is an internet marketing consultant at Kairay Media, who specializes in social advertising, content marketing, and website user experience. - http://www.kairaymedia.com
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  • Caroline Bell

    Whichever way you look at this it’s click fraud and is hurting the pockets of the advertisers and the reputation of Facebook. They need to face up to their responsibilities.

    • Brent Csutoras

      I agree and even larger it puts the question of quality into a lot of people minds. People who might not have more than $100 to spend are going to be questing that spend.

      The little amounts ad up on a large scale so Facebook better do something soon.

      • georg

        Hello everybody,

        I started a campain last week for my page with huge success: about 500 likes in 7 days. First I was happy but already on the 3rd day I was becoming aware that this is just “too good to be true” because there was nearly no interaction increase. a second thing that made me sceptical is the fact that the ACTIONS were much higher than the CLICKS and why the hack should someone like a page of a musician without knowing if he likes the kind of music or not… so I experimented and found out that expecially pages from southamerica seem to be fake (targets were Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Brazil)…. most LIKES came from Mexico!! And I’ve also found out that especially profiles with an age range from 13-18 seem to be fake…

        BUT I also came to the conclusion that some of those profiles are actually real although they’re liking everything what comes… I think that they are somehow getting paid for liking pages, although I don’t know yet in who’s interest this could be. But there is simply NO REASON at all in liking everything, from baby food to music, within one single hour.

        Anyway the result is the same: most LIKES (from these countries) are worthless.

        I hope Facebook will soon take this extremly seriously. But as long as we keep spending money on facebook-ads – although we are aware of this problem – they will not have any motivation to do so…

        So a “organized boycote” would probably help best! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Xtrology

      I do not get all my likes. If I did, I would have 3-4 times more. I sat for a week at 701 while I get notifications and likes under posts. Also I wrote, “I hate FB.” And that comment was deleted. Many times I cannot post a link for days. And, more often than not, I cannot delete. Is anyone else having this problem?

  • GBk

    I’m afraid to say that some of those profiles, does exist. They’re real people. Mostly from latinamerica

    And these childrens, love to like everything they see.

    • Brent Csutoras

      I understand your point and I think you will find that Jake stated many are indeed real or are very real looking. However, for anyone to start liking literally 1,500+ page a month is a bit extreme and I don’t buy it as being natural action in any way.

      • Erik Larson

        Brent, I’ve talked to some of these people, and they are real. They just use Facebook in very different ways than you expect, so their profiles look ‘fake’ to you. Especially in countries where the new Timeline view has been around a while, people are much more likely to use Facebook like most people use Twitter – they use it to consume more general information, rather than to keep up with long-lost or far-flung friends.

        Facebook is well aware of the problem, and I think they are mis-leading advertisers by doing what they are doing, but it is not bots or traditional click-fraud…considering that Facebook has near perfect info about their users, either would require an incredible act of corporate malfeasance. Not impossible, but hard to believe.

        I wrote up my experiences several months ago http://wahanegi.com/do-not-advertise-on-facebook-until-you-read-this/ and have followed up a few times since then.

      • Brent Csutoras


        You are going to have a hard time convincing me that a large number of people, who in many cases have not updated their account in weeks if not months, are sitting on Facebook liking some 50+ fanpages a day for a massive variety of companies all over the world.

        Also if you check out the link I added above today, it is showcasing another study which is being written about on every major tech site today, which went further and actually tested the traffic to determine it was 80% bots.

        I am very aware that some people might fall into the bot-looking category, but there are just too many red flags on the accounts, especially like I mentioned just in this comment, where I could open 20 of the latest likes from the fanpage and see 18 of the 20 having a trend of no updates and yet liking 50+ fanpages a day for weeks straight… often 5 to 6 pages per minutes… at all different hours of the day.

  • Jon Loomer

    I’ve seen this as well. It’s become a problem now that Facebook offers “optimized” ads that are directed to people most likely to click on your ad. So if there are bots or people who blindly like everything, they will show your ad to them and you’ll get a like. An empty, meaningless like. I’ve found this to especially be the case outside of the US where I was getting under 5 cents per like, which is insane.

    I highly doubt Facebook is creating fake profiles to do this. But I am perplexed by what the motivation would be for people to like dozens of pages per minute, as I’ve been seeing. My initial thought was spam. You sit at your computer, clicking on ads all day. Then you’re in and you spam the hell out of the page. But I haven’t seen that much spam on my page.

    Even if Facebook isn’t behind it, they need to control it. On the surface, it may appear that brands are getting greater value out of their ads, but we’re quickly realizing that this is the complete opposite.


    • Jake Filan

      I agree and interesting points about the spam which I haven’t seen either, but will definitely keep an eye out for.

    • Erik Larson

      Jon, I just made a comment in this thread about my research into these profiles that I think will be helpful to you. They aren’t fake, but I agree with you that Facebook has an obligation to deal with the situation.

      • Lric Earson

        I think YOU’RE a fraud Erik. Let’s just say doing a simple google search for facebook ad-bots will lead you to many small apps out there for doing what you say is not happening. Let’s get serious here.

      • Lric Earson

        This is a better search: “facebook like bot script”. Just look at how many people are requesting that from freelancers as well. Get serious here. This is big.

  • Bryce Hanson

    This is pretty scary. My company has over 3000 likes and has pretty low engagement. even spot checking our likes, takes me to profiles that have nothing to do with my industry.

    • Brent Csutoras


      I feel you completely.

      I have been doing the same now on a lot of campaigns, even after me and Jake found the above. I have paused all my campaigns for now, until I can get a good enough feeling on value.

      The real kicker for me is the first one we ran that Jake mentioned to me a month or so ago. We were paying over $.50 a click and never saw a bit of value from the 800+ fans we got. That campaign was very targeted too.

      In fact all our campaigns have been very targeted, having a hard time getting to over 500,000 people in general for reach, which really negates the Facebook response on things being just not targeted.

    • Xtrology

      I’m having just the opposite problem. I’m not getting my likes? I’d rather have them than not have them.

  • lenoreblog

    I followed your links and found people with 500 friends and 11,000 likes. C’mon, FB, weed those out! You know they are bots.

    • Ivo

      How does a bot get 500 friend requests approved?

      • georg zรถhrer

        I suppose they just friend with other – self created – fake profilses…

  • John Rooney

    This “We’ve got nearly a billion users worldwide, so, whatever” attitude seems to be becoming a running theme with Facebook, and is what will one day lead to them going the way of the Dodo.

    • Brent Csutoras


      Unfortunately people really don’t seem to care with Facebook. Each time they have dropped the ball, some being massive failures on privacy, there has been only a minor number of people that care.

      It is the AT&T mentality and for the most part, this probably really will not affect Facebook that much. The same time we are talking about this issue, the majority of the media is talking about their new Ad systems.

      • Lee

        I am totally disappointed in this whole scenario. Is there any forthright business happening at all? I just opened a web page on Facebook for my business last night. In about 15 hours I have more than 60 likes. I found this to be incredible. I did not at any point think, “Wow, this is great…” I immediately did a search for getting paid for likes on facebook and found more hits than I could or would possibly want to read. I have no intention of paying for any Like that doesn’t produce business.

  • tj

    My only “saving grace” on this (and it’s more of a question really) is that a store I managed in the past paid for advertising online which used a similar method. According to the salesman, search engines rank a website higher if it is being linked to by other websites. Part of their ad campaign was to link our website on a large number of their “trusted” e-blogs (which were essentially endless pages of links, much like the endless number of likes). Supposedly, all of these links would tell the search engines that our website was a trusted website, and move us up closer to the top of a Google search. Could this potentially be the idea behind the large number of “fake likes?”

    With that being said, that ad campaign was a huge flop and we dropped it after 5 or 6 months.

    • Brent Csutoras


      I could go on a tangent, which I am sure someone else will, on whether that is effective or proper SEO methods, but it is enough to lead your question on the similarity to the likes issue.

      I will say that I do not believe it is the same thing here and I think it is much more about just spiking total likes for branding purposes, and trying to hide the network of sites the companies have doing it.

      This is just my opinion based on what I have seen and what me and Jake talked about.

  • diane

    Interesting Stuff. I am running a campaign myself and my engagement is yet to improve even tho my fan base has doubled

  • David Nikolic

    I totally agree with your points. I faced the problem of spam few days back. I think its very important to make few changes with regard to profile and account setting on facebook too.

  • Denny

    Its shocking that facebook give their advertisers fake likes, which is is eating away the money of Advertisers, FB has to come up with ideas that were implemented by Google to handle issues mentioned in the article and brand name is not on stake.

  • Z Miller

    Great article. I will review my likes on my pages…I never even considered spam or click fraud until this article…

    • Brent Csutoras


      Please come back and let us know what you find and really hope your not having issues, but if you are, I am happy that this article helped you catch it now.

  • KC

    I have gotten about 150 new likes on my page since I began the campaign on June 27, but have not had any additional engagement on my page. I was worried about this when I first started running the ad, but luckily I used the $50 Facebook credit they emailed to page owners instead of my own funds, if this happens to be true.

  • Petr Macek & Co.

    Good articles, we should start paying attention to similar “issues” taken place on our FB pages.

    I am seeing a similar thing on my client’s page. We get plenty of ad clicks, they then become fans on our custom tab/app and immediately they unfan us. So in reports I see tens of new fans from from an ad but in reality there is only a hand full. Could this be a bot also?

  • Zoltan

    I never had this problem, mainly because i’m running FB ad’s in Hungary, 99% of the users are real and engaging in conversations. And it cost me about 0.01 USD/like, very cheap considering that i’m targeting woman, single, 17-19 years old from Hungary. And sales is up 300%. I’m really satisfied with those figures.

    Total Likes?
    1,644 61.02%
    Friends of Fans?
    528,806 47.59%
    People Talking About This?
    1,665 614.59%
    Weekly Total Reach?
    165,019 354.91%

    • Zoltan

      if i have 3000 likes and “people talking about this” 2800, then i know my fans are pretty real. I don’t understand this hype about the fake users.

      • Rick

        I completely believe they are mostly fake. Someone may be paying these people to sit and click on everything. They charge me .75 a click and pay them .10? Who knows. But I do know I have my target audience narrowed down and get a ton of likes and get no more sales from the facebook generated likes. If it was real they would buy. Ive done enough testing, something has to be done here im getting ripped off but I keep using it because about 25% of the people are real and who I am looking for ๐Ÿ™

  • John Mac

    As a social networking consultant and admin for a radio group, I can say first hand that I have not had this problem. We track our likes, especially focusing on where the likes are coming from. It seems like we are getting an appropriate amount of geographic distribution which would not happen if the stats were being pumped up by bots. There are a lot of bot pages out there and they probably target organization which do not rely on local appeal but if you are a small business or one that focuses their ad campaigns regionally, it should not be hard to see if you data is coming from your area or not. If not, that is a red flag.

  • FaceItPages

    We have noticed this is more of an issue when you set the ad objective to Show this to people who are most likely to “like my page”. You end up getting a ton of low quality likes that do seem fake. This doesn’t seem to be as big of a problem when you set the objective to “click on my ad or sponsored story” and set your own max CPC.

    • Brent Csutoras

      Just to clarify, in all of the campaigns that Jake and myself ran, which were the basis for the above article, NONE use the ‘most likely to like our page’ option.

      We always use ‘click on my ad or sponsored story’ with a max CPC specified.

      All were also targeted very specifically, as we are not looking for volume as much as quality.

      • FaceItPages

        Interesting Brent. Does seem like Facebook has a click fraud problem. Hope they address it soon. Articles like this will hopefully shed some light onto it.

  • Robins

    Here’s an interesting post if you wonder why facebook is not taking action against buying fans or likes. http://bit.ly/HII6FM

  • Sue

    You would think that Facebook, with all of its programmers, would be able to create a program that alerts them to any profile that likes more than a certain number on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The program could also warn the Facebook user and then freeze the account if the behavior continues. Unless they do have one but don’t think 500 likes a month, for example, is suspicious.

    When Facebook said: “We’ve not seen evidence of a significant problem. Neither has it been raised by the many advertisers who are enjoying positive results from using Facebook.” They could have added something like: but we’ll keep monitoring the situation to ensure advertisers continue to get value. And meant it. (Maybe they are monitoring it but unless they say they are, who knows for sure…)

    Most people who have used ads to get likes probably don’t measure or scrutinize to the degree you did. They may sense that their customer engagement hasn’t changed but not know why.

  • SocialShout!

    Like vs Look

    There’s a reason they call ‘Likes’ a Vanity Metric.

    A few have used the word here already – ENGAGEMENT. That’s the key.

    Easy to say of course, but much harder to achieve.

    I think too many just assume that because it’s online, the rules of the offline world don’t apply.

    As long as we’re targeting real people on social networks – which of course all businesses are – we need to treat them like real people. Talk with them. Give them what they want, not what you want. (OK, I’ll say it…ENGAGE with them!!) Until you do, ‘Like’ means nothing more than ‘Look’. That’s really all it means now anyway, right?

  • Jody C.

    “After a week of posting content designed to engage the new audience and attract more new followers, the individual post Likes were averaging the same totals as prior to the campaign.”

    I don’t think the problem is Facebook ads. I think the problem is your content lacks engagement. I don’t see that you engage anyone on your posts. No questions, no what do you think about this, fill in the black, click like if you…Just a thought.

  • Creative Website Designs

    Thanks for the very informative article. It is actually quite surprising that Facebook would do something like that. I always think that good old fashioned organic SEO is more beneficial rather than Facebook Ads or even Google Adwords.

  • Paul

    I was very glad to find this recent article, if only to know I wasn’t crazy. Twice now I have tried paying for some facebook ads to promote music, and through both campaigns the only people who “liked” my page didn’t seem like real people at all. One way or another I’m now pretty sure that it’s a scam to pay for these ads. The “people” you connect with have nothing in common with what you targeted or are selling, and don’t interact at all. I’m just glad I’ve only spent small amounts experimentally.

  • Brent Csutoras

    Another report just came out accusing Facebook Ads to be heavily populated by bots.

    Linking to post here, instead of theirs directly, as they are closing their account very soon.


  • Erik Larson

    Brent, I’ve talked to some of these people, and they are real. They just use Facebook in very different ways than you expect, so their profiles look ‘fake’ to you. Especially in countries where the new Timeline view has been around a while, people are much more likely to use Facebook like most people use Twitter – they use it to consume more general information, rather than to keep up with long-lost or far-flung friends.

    Facebook is well aware of the problem, and I think they are mis-leading advertisers by doing what they are doing, but it is not bots or traditional click-fraud…considering that Facebook has near perfect info about their users, either would require an incredible act of corporate malfeasance. Not impossible, but hard to believe.

    I wrote up my experiences several months ago http://wahanegi.com/do-not-advertise-on-facebook-until-you-read-this/ and have followed up a few times since then.

    Sorry for the double-post, wanted to make sure folks following your thread saw this. Thank you for publishing your findings, nice work. It is amazing to me how unconcerned most industry insiders have been about this issue.

    • Brent Csutoras


      You are going to have a hard time convincing me that a large number of people, who in many cases have not updated their account in weeks if not months, are sitting on Facebook liking some 50+ fanpages a day for a massive variety of companies all over the world.

      Also if you check out the link I added above today, it is showcasing another study which is being written about on every major tech site today, which went further and actually tested the traffic to determine it was 80% bots.

      I am very aware that some people might fall into the bot-looking category, but there are just too many red flags on the accounts, especially like I mentioned just in this comment, where I could open 20 of the latest likes from the fanpage and see 18 of the 20 having a trend of no updates and yet liking 50+ fanpages a day for weeks straight… often 5 to 6 pages per minutes… at all different hours of the day.

      • Erik Larson

        It took me about 50 hours of my own direct research into 500 profiles like those you describe before I believed it. That research was time consuming because everything happens in the Facebook app, plus the behavior is unusual so I kept making wrong guesses since at the beginning I had the same beliefs that you do.

        I describe my research findings on my blog posts if you want to read more detail, and I spend time on this because I feel that Facebook is acting unethically. So forgive me if I only address your specific questions:

        – Updating your profile and liking something are two different things. Some people update their profile a lot, some do it infrequently. If you use Facebook socially, you might do it quite frequently. But if you use Facebook mostly to consume information, then often you won’t. Think of Twitter…how often do most people update their Twitter profile…it depends, right? Regardless, I have had interactions with real people whose profiles have not been updated for months even though they like dozens of things a day. That is not a statistical statement, but it casts serious doubt on your doubt, especially because the type of behavior you are seeing is _what you would expect_ from people use Facebook this way. As a result, I realized early on that those heavy likers with infrequent updates were the most likely to be real, not the least likely.

        – I found many people who would click 5-6 likes in a minute at various times in the day…but I never found anyone who did it in a pattern that was unnatural assuming the point above. They would do it in the morning, through-out the day, in the evening…but they were usually consistent over time, and within fairly normal behavior bounds of someone checking in to mess around on Facebook or Twitter. In other words, they didn’t do it every hour for 24 hours in a row or something like that. Their clicks mapped to ‘bored’ behavior, not bot behavior.

        I posted a quote from one of the guys in one of my postings http://wahanegi.com/10-percent-of-fb-revenue/. I think this largely sums it up:

        “Yes, I do remember why I liked things in batches. Facebook suggests things for you to like in the right column on some pages. As soon as you click to like one of them, it replaces it with another suggestion. I’m quite happy to like thousands of things on Facebook as it improves the kind of stories and ads that come up in my news feed and again in the right column. I would rather see things I am interested in than things I’m not.”

        I understand your incredulity, but I am more incredulous that you would think Facebook would allow such a massive fraud to continue for years inside their own app…although to be honest at first I thought exactly the same thing, so much so that I was worried I’d get a visit from the Russian oligarchs behind Digital Sky or something ;). Instead, I think at first they were just incompetent and now are being unethical…but since they were first sued about this several years ago, I am fairly certain that they have their legal bases covered as best they can.

        In other words, if you can prove that these are not real people, then I can guarantee there are bunch of lawyers who would be very interested to see your proof.

      • Brent Csutoras


        I am quite curious now and will follow up both on my specified users and read your findings closer. I definitely am most interested in finding out what is really happening, as I have about 40 ad campaigns on pause right now pending the outcome of this all.

        I will say that one thing is certain, if the users are not bots, they might as well be, since they do not like, comment, share, or even visit any of the updates.

        I may reach out to you with some direct questions once I get a chance to review all this and really appreciate you sharing here.

  • Erik Larson

    I agree, there is essentially no difference between these ‘booklicants’ as I call them and a bot or click-fraudster, except that what they are doing is neither illegal or fraudulent. To that point, if you read FB’s comments carefully (including the comments I published on my blog, and what they said to the BBC), they show the hallmarks of well scripted and legally correct responses.

    Also, it is not that the booklicants won’t engage at all…my guess is that their streams must be incredibly clogged with messages, like my Twitter stream I suppose. So if you gather enough of them around your page and throw enough stories into their incredibly clogged streams, even paying to promote one every so often, then you will eventually start to get some interactions – that was part of what I did to validate they were real people after I had collected a few thousand of them at a penny or two each. My methodology is here: http://wahanegi.com/save-money-on-facebook-ads/.

    Happy to answer any questions in the interest of helping get this story into the light.

  • sln9

    Good read. Maybe you find this interesting: https://www.facebook.com/limitedpressing/posts/209534972507958

    • Mark Moore

      sln9, the link you posted does not work. Can you update the link or describe what it is supposed to point to?

  • thomas

    Great article.
    Yes, this makes me hesitate if it’s still worth advertising on Facebook…

  • Jaye

    I began my first ad campaign on FB one week ago. I checked some of my likes and intuitively felt that some looked real and others looked fake. Two of the profiles that liked our page had an identical message that went something like this “Hi everyone, I am clearing out my FB friends list, if you’d like to stay connected let me know”. The thing is that they were exactly the same message in blue bold text. I received one sale that came directly from a FB new like however that like was from a European customer and my ad target was US.

    I am sure that I am getting a mixture of fake and real likes. Also, as others have pointed out in this post stream, a lot of the people who like my page like thousands of other pages. This is unlikely for my market which is small and spiritual. I feel that FB is losing its footing little by little – eroded by a lack of integrity. It won’t be long and we will all be back investing our time into our websites and other, smaller, social avenues within the next 12 months. FB’s integrity is in question, from the share price to the fake ads, to it’s log out page advertising that seems reserved for massive companies like coke and adidas. It feels so public, not personal in the worst possible sense.

  • OK

    Thanks for the detailed post first of all.
    I am doing FB campaigns for the biggest global brands in my country. I sell around 250.000 likes per month. I cannot give the names of the brands or my country, it will be dangerous for me.
    One month ago, I had a brief about getting 12.000 like in a single day. I used ‘most likely to like our page’ option (the CPM option), using sponsored stories, I got 12K likes in 4 hours. The result was awesome. The cost per like is very cheap. On that day, I started thinking about this fraud topic. I may launched an aggressive ad campaign but I cannot believe that amount of people were ready to like this brand in 4 hours. We have no technical opportunity to understand if they are bots or real users, however we are almost sure that it is unnatural.
    Lets assume that everybody is willing to “like” this page, they really wanted to learn latest news about this brand. At the moment the page has around 600 K fans, but 15K fans are talking about this. Their latest 5 posts had 150 likes on average. I think there is a contradiction. Why the people is not interested in the page, although they were so interested in liking it?
    According to the results of other campaigns I did, the likers belong to 15-25 male demographic group. Everytime I launch a campaign for other people, I have difficulties. Especially for women targeting. That makes me think that they are not bots, they are real male young users hired by someone(s).
    In my country, facebook is very popular. There are 30 M accounts in my country and fraud facebook business is very common as black hat seo.
    As I said, I have no proofs, I havent done any technical research, but articles like this one support my claim.
    I hope someone will have real proofs someday.

  • Brent Csutoras

    Plot thickens as blank ads get more clicks than actual ones…


  • Jules

    I have a new ad on facebook. I had targeted my audience to a specific customer base and have recieved more than 50 new likes in 3 days. This number isn’t huge but I set a limit at 10 dollars per day and have met that each day. I am now checking the profiles of my new “likes” and am hugely dissapointed. Not my target customer and many of the new profiles have under 50 friends and over 1000 likes, some over 2000. I also find no indication that they are remotely interested in my industry, there are no photos of an actual person, their posts are mostly gaming apps and their likes are ramdom. I also have to deleate a couple due to innapproprate or offensive profile picture, I don’t want that showing up on my business page. Love the boost in numbers but it’s not what I thought I was purchasing. I will pull my ad

    Seriously dissapointed.

    • Mark Moore

      First to Jake, thanks for a great article!

      Next, Jules, I had a *very* similar experience with an ad campaign I just ran for my company. I specified a targeted area (CA & AZ), a targeted interest area (mortgage default & foreclosure), and specified a pay per click through to my external webpage.

      We maxed out each day at $10 (a limit I intentionally set), and we received 74 clicks and 51 new likes for which I paid a total of $72.75 after reaching 8,349 individuals.

      I went to each of these 51 new likes and engaged with them. I reviewed their web page and their likes, and I wrote a personal message (when possible) trying to interact.

      Of all of these, only 2 showed any sign of being a real person, and none have convinced me they are alive at all.

      The experience I had is what made me go look for others’ experiences and what led me to this article.

      There are a few posters in this thread trying to defend Facebook or asking for “proof” that the fake clicks are fake. But, that is completely irrelevant to me and I believe is irrelevant to the people/companies that pay for FB ads.

      I paid $72 for customer exposure. As best I can tell, I paid Facebook to pay someone to click. At the end of the day I have 50 new likes (bfd) at a buck a pop. I can tell you for certain that these “likers” did not click on my website. (I track that with Google Analytics.) And, they do not interact, repost, or tweet.

      If they are not bots, they might as well be. If Facebook ads cannot target customers better than that, I can’t even begin to justify spending thousands of dollars with them. If they are not committing fraud (I personally think they are), they are *grossly* neglecting their only paying customers: guys like us that pay for ads.

      Someone above says they are pausing 30 ad campaigns pending further investigation. I’m on the same page.

      EVERY indication is that FB ads are either (a) worthless, (b) criminal ripoffs, or (c) both.

  • ellen partal

    Question on how Ghost Fans effect Facebook Insights. If insights is based on how others sharing your info etc then it would stand to reason 10 active friends would generate better results than 1000 silent fans. Consequently these Ghost Friends (sorry thats how I think of them) are hurting more than just ads, they hurt your Facebook Ranking? Right?

  • Morgan

    I just started using FB ads today and received dozens of new followers, all from Mexico; and each time I’d get likes in groups of about 4-12 people all at once… it was very suspicious to me.

    I think out of all the “Likes” I’ve received today there may have been one legitimate one.. and she messaged my page asking for a “Like” back for her page…

    Cancelling this campaign within’ the week for sure.

  • TS


    Thanks for the post – I was looking up things abuot facebook fraud since I’m seeing something similar in my campaign and I am 100% sure there’s click fraud going on.

    My page is for an iphone app aimed at a very specific target group – who play a certain real life game (soemthing like d&d). This enables us to have a very well targeted campaign because only people who play this game in real life might download our app, so we target it only to people who have put down the game in their interests.

    At first we ran the campaign only in the US: we got about 100-200 likes, almost all of them were real users of our apps, we could tell by the reponses. They not only liked our page, but wrote how much they enjoy our app.
    With only 100-200 fans we were getting 10-20 likes on each post.

    Then I opened up the campaign to several europian markets and latin american ones.

    We got maybe 200 likes in a single day NONE of which said anything about our app, I doubt we even have any users in these markets so why would they “like” us so much more than the US folks???

    No chance in this world that these people like our app or even intend to use it. I have no idea why they had the name of the real life game in their interests – I’m not even sure they do, I think they’re completely fake – I can sense it.

    Our original fan base was so deeply involved and engaged that the difference can really only mean one thing.

    I’ve shut down the targeting to Latin america markets and I hope our engagement goes back up (in direct ratio to number of likes)

    I’d like to add that it definitley doesn’t hurt to “show off” this high number of likes…
    but this is not what we were aiming for. :-/

    It’s even more fun to “show off” the high engagement
    rate and feel that our page is really a community of people who love our product and with whom
    we can have a real conversations.

  • Jaye

    I have been experimenting with FB ads. My site and page is focused on high level knowledge of yoga and meditation. I ran some ads with obscure words that only an advanced yogi would understand. You guest it. the majority of my likes came from profiles that also like hamburgers, games, shopping, cars, erotica, bands. A tiny minority of the profiles reflected that they liked yoga. I deleted 80% of the likes these ads generated. So I paid almost $10.00 for each of the the few authentic likes I received. For me ,FB advertising is a total waste of time, money and energy. We have decided to invest elsewhere, so that we can continue to build our authentic list for our authentic users.

  • stacey

    I too just started an ad campaign for my facebook page and was immediately concerned that the new people liking my page seemed to be so far from my target audience.

    I started to research a bit and found that there are tons of websites out there offering people money to “like” facebook pages. If you google “can I get paid to like facebook pages” you will find an endless list of opportunities to sign up and get paid up to $2 per like. I think these people are real – what they’re doing is setting up “fake” facebook accounts and just liking as many random pages as they can to earn cash that gets deposited into their paypal accounts.

    My question is: what are these random (non-engaged user) likes worth?

  • Joe Lee

    I ran FB adv in the beginning of 2012. Within a few weeks I’ve gained 800 fans. Then I found out that non were responsive to my post. So I stopped. Fortunately a friend shared with me a FB adv video. in Aug. Following the steps, I gained a more quality audience group. The likes are growing slower, but they are responsive. Starting to see people I don’t know liking my posts and commenting on it. Some better post can go up to more than 100 likes. Now I’m still using FB adv.

  • georr

    Hello to all,

    As a first thing, this article is very usefull to have an understanding over the fb ads. I am also one of those that try to figure out what exactly is happening before starting a fb ad campaign. Frankly, I still have no idea on what is the truth and I am more than confused…

    How could someone prove it right or wrong?


  • Mark Moore

    Georr, there are a number of easy was to prove fb fraud. There are two kinds of fb ads: one generates fb visits and likes, the other is “pay per click”.

    If you make th e”click” on your add go to a page you own, you will see every click through. The number of clicks you see coming to the special page should be equal to or greater than the number of “clicks” you get charged for by your fb invoice.

    If your experience is like mine, they won’t even be close. Facebook said there were over 60 clicks on my add, but I did not get 5 clicks when I was monitoring the page clicks directly during the period of time the ad was in place.

    This is an easily repeatable experiment, FB fraud is blatant. Try it yourself and post the results here.

  • Mario Vicente Bonacin

    I have some ads in facebook (www.facebook.com//studiomariosbros) and it seems that more than 50% of the LIKES are “fake” LIKES.

    It’s really annoying feel like paying for fake results…

    please facebook, at least recognize the problem and give us a discount on that.

  • georr

    Great Mark,

    Thanks for the tip, I will certainly think the option of providing proof for such a fraud, but wouldn’t this mean that I have already paid to FB some cash? ๐Ÿ™‚


  • dee

    Interesting topic… I’ve also recently started working more on FB as it’s pretty much the only medium my target audience uses these days.

    The Jury is still out but here is my experience so far.. hopefully it will help to understand what’s going on and whether we are getting ripped off or not.

    A few days ago I decided to promote myself… a little bit reluctantly as a musician shouldn’t need to do that : )
    However, I went for a spend of £100 targeted at 90% of EU countries and a few others such as russia, japan etc.

    I also went with ‘only show friends of people who already like the page’ and was looking for page likes so that was my route as well.

    I noticed that so far there have been around 10 new likes a day.. out of which 90% were friends of friends so are genuine users. The remaining 10% do look suspicious however, I can’t prove that they are as they could very well fit into my target market.

    The most important thing that I did notice though was this… I usually get a few likes (0-20) per post. This is generally to shameless self promotion of youtube links and sound clips etc. But on the day I started my add campaign I posted an image.. something that people in my industry like and got around 20 click in an hour as well as lots of user engagement..

    My conclusion is that the internet is a saturated environment these days and you really need to have something compelling for a user to interact with it. Your avrg user has an attention span of a few seconds these days. On the other had your avrg user is still a human and as such still has the hoarding instinct. ‘I like this brand, I’ll save it for later’ 500 likes later there is so much information that only a few % actually gets through to them.
    or yours is at the bottom of the compelling enough to interact with list.

    Lastly – FB have recently changed their page algorithm. This means that out of your users only a select few will ever see your post. I saw this posted on other sites at around 10%?? Together with the above, this makes the perfect storm for your posts not getting the response you would expect.

    I’ll carry on with my experiment for now as my optimised CPM is currently 0.06 which is pretty good even if it’s just for brand recognition.

  • Anya

    I stopped my campaign because I noticed this. I targeted people by schools in the USA – HBCUs speficically – historically Black colleges and universities. These schools have 99% Black students, I was getting likes from people in Brazil, not Black, with fake profiles. My content in no way appeals to this people. Furthermore ads were set to target USA. Just a total sham it was really disappointing and a waste of money.

  • Julie

    I am the owner of a wedding photography business in Ontario Canada. We recently started “promoting ” our posts hoping they would reach the friends/family of our couples. What did happen was we recieved hundres of “Like”s from Egypt. I was skeptical right of the start about them being real and my husband thought they had to be. The more we looked into their profiles (some of their photos being OUR IMAGES, weird) we realized there was no way they were legit. I googled more about it and found your article. It’s very disappointing as we’d like to advertise to our potential market but instead all of our money goes to these profiles from “Egypt”.


  • Nick

    Any one knows better platform to promote ecommerce business through online marketing, please suggest. I will be really greatful. Here’s my FB Ads story though:

    I started a new business and thought of promoting it through FB. Placed an advertisement, put the budget of $10 per day…the ad got approved late night and I was notified through email. The next morning when I woke up I got more than 350 likes within 8-10hrs. I immediately checked my website analytics and hardly any visits there, so no conversion from fan page to website traffic, anyways then I posted some product pictures and their details and link to buy them online, but still nothing getting generated…

    Since I was new to FB Ads I couldn’t understand what’s going on, but every second I was getting new likes and I was so happy as the likes from 0 – 1000 reached within 3 days!

    After a week I started feeling odd, and started checking profiles of the users who were liking the page, and found same story as mentioned above, the profile of the users shows they have like 3000 pages, 5000 pages, over 2000 friends etc. which easily seems quite fishy.

    But by the time I could figure out this stuff I had already spent close to $100 in 10 days.

    Its not just once but then I tried it again with better filters and narrowing down my target audience and still the likes were coming from fishy profiles only…

  • Anonymous

    I SAW THIS TOO! I chose to be anonymous so Facebook doesn’t delete my page. Its like a DICTATORSHIP in Facebook land. I KNEW IT!!! What can we do. hmm.. Start a bill on Change.org? Lets do it.

  • Bruce

    Absolutely getting spammed Likes – a non active FB “person” with 13k Likes! You can’t convince me that person is real. And a Like rate that is too good to be true. Two snippets (of many) and anecdotal but I am not convinced the like number is credible.

  • Zoltan

    it’s seems to me, that nobody heard of geo or location targeting. If someone cannot set up a FB Ad, than please hire professionals! How could someone from Egyipt “like” your page, if you set the target to N.Y or L.A or California or whatever! FB is a great place to advert, and the ROI is just phenomenal. But only if you are online marketing professional.

    • Mario Vicente Bonacin

      Zoltan, It seems to me that you are a lucky guy who haven’t already been caught by the fake legion.

      Once caught by ONE fake profile, all the fake network, friends of the fake profile, will start to like your page by clicking in your ads. That’s what we are observing and complaining about. They randomly like your page, and they are located in “nowhere”.

      A facebook Ad is very simple to set, and if you are a good market reader you can easily be an “online marketing professional”

    • Julie

      Zoltan, there are different types of Facebook advertising. I too have a very successful business, I am done booking for 2013 and half full for 2014. That has nothing to do with this issue. The issue is the “promoting” a post of your choice. The option is “promote to just fans” or “promote to fans and friends of fans”. Of course this should be a good option as its a great idea to promote to the friends of our couples. When we tried this option we began getting 100s on likes a day from profiles that were clearly not legit/or our target market.

      There is nothing in the your 2nd post below that proves your “Likes” are genuine. These ‘fake’ profiles, comment on our photos, share them and even use them as their own.

      What is the link to you biz page?

    • georr


      how are you so sure that the people asking all those questions in this thread are that low-IQ to set an Egypt targetted fan page with geotargetting to California???

      we are all looking for answers here, maybe you should provide some if you are a professional…

  • Zoltan

    Total Likes: 21,409 7.63%
    Friends of Fans: 3,454,199 4.06%
    People Talking About This: 21,595 18%

    ALL of this FB Fan page (under my management, bridal shop) likes are real as you can see, 21.409 likes VS 21.595 TAT
    Huga activity, huges sales in the store. They cannot take any reservations till next year….
    I hardly believe, i’m the only one who does it right. The problem is with the majority, who doesn’t, and they blame FB.

    • Georg

      there are regions where you get more fake likes and regions where you don’t.
      for example when I advertise only in Europe fake profiles are the minority. as soon I target countries in southamerica, expecially Mexico I get 9 times more likes than in Europe – and most of them are fake. you see that also at the fact that in Europe the Actions (Likes) are smaller than the click – rate which means that people first click and then decide to like or not. in southamerica it’s the other way around: not many clicks but all likes so they just like without checking the page. a lot- not all – of these profiles are fake – that’s a fact.. and this got nothing to do if you can set up a campain or not. it depends on WHERE you target your audience.

      • Zoltan

        i agree with that, i’m using FB Ad’s only in Europe, and after collected 22.000 likes, i saw maybe 2 fake profiles. But i don’t think that i’m the only lucky guy. I manage another 10 FB profiles, and never experienced anything unusual, and ‘m still wondering, how could someone start an ad on FB, and getting only fake likes. I interact with my users, and no way , that they are fake, i’m getting responses and replies like from real humans: http://www.facebook.com/BoglarkaSzalon

  • Joe Lee

    It’s unfortunate that many got the fake ‘likes. I do agree of that as initially I was a victim of fake ‘likes’ too. Until I attended a webinar about Facebook Advertisement. The information I learned changed my Facebook advertisement effectiveness.

    Now I’m generating genuine ‘likes’ because they interact with me, like my post. That proves that they are genuine ‘likes’ Furthermore, I getting responses driving them to my workshop. So I say it works, just have to learn how to make it work.

    • Drew Bowers

      I have been hit with a lot of fake likes. Do you have any tips you can share to over come this?

  • georr

    hello all,

    can someone also provide a ROI indication concerning #of likes vs. amount of money spent?

    for instance, how many likes would a $10 or a $100 fb campaing result in the end?

    • Zoltan

      I love Promoted Post’s, the CTR is about 20%, and with about 20 USD in 3 days, i’m getting those results:

      18,456 Page Photo Views
      2,912 Page post likes
      303 Page Post Shares
      56 Page likes
      39 Comments on Page Posts
      35 Link Clicks
      8 Video Plays
      4 Check-ins
      1 Question Answers

      All this for 20 USD. The is simply no better and cheaper way.

  • Drew Bowers

    I am so glad I found this article as I have been suspecting this for a long time. We have done a few facebook ads and always specify US for location. However, all we ever get for new “Likes” are people with ethnic names , pages using foreign languages and pages with no postings or pictures. Does anyone have tips to overcome this issue as I’d still really like to use facebook as a marketing tool.

  • Gandhi Casas

    Just suspended my advertising campaigns with Facebook. The likes seem to come at consistent points throughout the day and I specifically drilled down for those interested in or connections to SMU in Dallas. I’m getting likes from people that clearly have ZERO connection to SMU, let alone would enjoy pics, writing, etc. about SMU football or basketball. Facebook doesn’t leave enough information as to the how’s and why’s of these campaigns. Strangely, the moment I suspended both of my campaigns, I got what appears to be my very first like by a connection to one of my FB friends. Very strange. I’ll wait it out.

  • Jesse DeMarco

    Whether Facebook is behind this scam or not, people should be aware of what they are getting when they sign up for an ad. I have tried a few times to use their system, and I am totally convinced that a third to a half of the likes that are acquired during a campaign are from fake accounts. I have also seen weird spikes in how the daily spend is used, that does not coincide with actual clicks or likes. Good luck trying to get in touch with someone at FB to get those dollars back!

  • CJ82

    I have been running FB ad campaigns on and off for the past couple of months. Whilst, I have certainly noticed an increase in legitimate likes, I absolutely agree about the number of seemingly fake page likes. It is very frustrating, especially as our target audience is quite niche and therefore in theory it should be possible to drill down quite precisely to potential clients. How can we get around this problem of bots automatically liking our pages? Facebook need to take action on this.

  • Mark Moore

    @Jesse DeMarco and @CJ82, I posted earlier, so you know I’m convinced FB is running a scam. If not intentionally, then by intentional neglect.

    What is stunning is that after 4 months and 86 comments, there is not one single response from an authority with Facebook responding to this thread. This is not some unknown hate site dissing on FB. This is Search Engine Journal, and there have been a number of posts with quantified proof of fraud.

    The fact that Facebook has not even touched on this matter shows me they either do not give a rat’s ass about their customer’s money. Or worse… That FB actively benefits from this fraud and has little incentive to admit it even exists.

    Either way, this is extremely poor for Facebook customers. As I said before, I won’t spend another dime on FB ads until they address this.

    As @DeMarco says above “good luck trying to get in touch with someone at FB.” Their stunning silence is so very telling.


  • Zoltan

    to call it FRAUD, i think is simply overreacted. I’m going to make a photo of the shop i put on FB with some Ad, there are a huge queue , and they are pretty real people, ๐Ÿ™‚ And they are there, because of the FB Ad…… It’s amazing to see.

  • Erik Larson

    Zoltan, I agree that the word ‘fraud’ may be a bit extreme. Self-serving laziness and corporate paralysis seems more likely to me. Also, based on my research, your Hungarian-language site is not a good honeypot for these profiles. The bots (i.e. truly fake profiles) and booklicants (i.e. profiles of people who ‘like’ things indiscriminately from an advertiser perspective) that swarm all over pages are a relatively small percentage of overall users…so to get very many of them, you need to be advertising to a large population…in my experience, all you have to do is advertise in English to most any country with several million English-language users, and the swarm will come. At this point I have collected about ten thousand of these profiles. After some inspection of them, it seems as if they are mostly real people, as Facebook asserted to me, although they have extremely unusual Facebook behaviors. This makes sense to me, since Facebook would in fact be committing fraud if they allowed such easily identified automated profiles to exist in such large numbers. Fraud at that scale seems extremely unlikely to me…and if it does exist, it is a huge problem for the company, since eventually it will come to light and they will have to restate earnings going all the way back to the beginning, plus the company and executives will face an even larger raft of lawsuits and perhaps criminal charges…that sounds like a fun book to read, but it probably isn’t true.

    • Zoltan

      Yes Erik, as a Hungarian, our Pages are not the best “targets”, because the language is not widely spoken (about 15 million people). The conspiracy theory is very interesting, and could make sense, but i don’t think FB is behind this. At all. Because if it would be true, the loss would be much more bigger, than their gain…. The reason is, FB has many fake profiles, because 1 billion people are using it every day, and some of them have another intentions with this vast “machine” I have phenomenal results with FB ads within couple of months, and next year this time i want to triple my revenue. So far, i’m very positive….

  • Mark Moore

    @Erik Larson, fraud may seem a bit extreme to you, but I do not use the word lightly, and I do mean fraud. Here is the top line definition from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fraud

    fraud, n.: “deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage. ”

    I paid $1/click to FB for a click through to a web page I setup specifically for the ad campaign. There were no clicks to that page, although I was charged $70 for 70 FB ad clicks. This was pure and simple fraud.

    The fact that many of these “hyper-likers” on FB are real people is another strong indication of fraud. How to you motivate a person to like more than 10,000 pages? ๐Ÿ˜• The fact that there are “swarms” of these hyper-likes shows that it is not some odd case of an electroninc OCD-like personality disorder where some pimply-faced Monk is clicking little blue “like” icons because he/she cannot stop.

    The only way to motivate this enormous swarming hoard is with $$$. If I am giving $1/click to Facebook, how is that money filtering through to the hoards? It may not be a direct Payola[1] , but it is hard to believe there is not some sort of connection that makes this a modern, electronic version of the “third-party loophole.” I wish some investigative reporter would follow the money on this one.

    Again, I believe the factual evidence demonstrates unambiguous fraud. If I grant FB a benefit of doubt, then it is simply grotesque negligence, and an appalling lack of customer concern.

    Certainly *someone* at FB reads this forum. This is an important thread, and an active thread. Where is any Facebook response?… All I hear are crickets. ๐Ÿ™


    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payola

    • Georg

      Hey Mark

      that’s exactly what I mentioned some time ago. I also believe that people are getting paid for liking pages. there is simply no other explanation at all left of what could be the motivation of someone who likes 50 pages in one hour – from “baby food” to “independent music”, aso. just google “get paid to like facebook pages” and you see what I mean.

      Cheers, Georg

    • Erik Larson

      Yes there certainly are bots. But based on my research (and with no thanks to Facebook’s terrible customer service), Facebook does seem to have reasonably good click-fraud detection for advertisers to protect us against paying for fake likes.

      My experience indicates that the problem arises because a large enough number of real people use Facebook very differently than you think they do. They regularly like dozens of pages in a day because it changes the content they see in their stream, or because they think it is fun and are accumulating likes for a sense of accomplishment, or because they are bored, or because they think it is what they are supposed to do on Facebook. In other words, this hyper-liking behavior seems a bit weird from an advertiser’s perspective, but the people who do it are not weird and do not see it that way. I have written extensively about my research into the problem on my blog, and Facebook’s nigh-deceitful responses to my inquiries. I don’t want to recount that here, but you are free to read about my experiences there, and some suggestions about how to reduce the problem.

      I think what Facebook is doing is wrong and perhaps ‘fraudulent’ in the sense of mis-representing the product they are selling. They are very aware of the problem and understand that advertisers don’t expect this sort of thing to happen…even worse, they continue to encourage this hyper-liking behavior through their user interface “improvements.” Since they allow it to persist and grow, I’m pretty sure they have an extensive legal basis for their position, and it is only through threads like this that their behavior will change.

      The last time this topic rose up in the media, the articles chattered on about bots, and Facebook just denied it. I am pretty sure they will continue to do so as long as they are accused of simple click-fraud. They will simply, semi-truthfully, say that it is not click-fraud, that they take click-fraud very seriously, and that the complaints just come from a small number of inexperienced small advertisers who don’t know what they are doing and are collecting likes from real people using Facebook as designed. That is BS in my opinion, but classic damage-control PR.

      Finally, all of this is not the same as paying a like-farmer to get a bunch of likes for your page…I assume if you do that, you know what you are getting into.

  • Joshua D.


    We started a campaign on Facebook two days ago and we did see a lot of likes coming in. Unfortunately though I believe that they are fake because on our page, on the first Wall post we offer a special discount coupon for our FB users, which seems that nobody redeemed so far. It’s definitely very suspicious because why like a page which targets a specific group and not use what it has to offer for free? I don’t expect everybody to use the coupon code but it’s definitely suspicious that NOBODY has so far.

    Also, I had a look at the profiles which liked the page and it seems that some of them have the patterns described at this article.

    This is unacceptable from Facebook.

  • Rick

    With the thousands I have spent on Facebook ads, the fake likes are so blatantly obvious and then they must forget about you until you make simple posts then when closely monitored you lose a few likes every time you post something as simple as Happy Labor Day, Happy Thanksgiving etc.from those sketchy likes who have 1000s of likes so they obviousy arent that touchy. You get real likes on there, dont get me wrong, but when facebook can dip into your paypal every 2 days for payment, someone on here has to be a lawyer and can get us some money back because we want to advertise on facebook and not get screwed or taken advantage of. Facebook we are on to you!

  • Marty

    aimClear studied this and published a report in SEW within the last few months. I’m not much for dropping links in blog comments, however this conversation is old.

    Here’s the URL: :Facebook Ads 80% Bot Claim, Examined! Why You Shouldn’t Lose Faith Just Yet” http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2197903/Facebook-Ads-80-Bot-Claim-Examined-Why-You-Shouldnt-Lose-Faith-Just-Yet

  • Brent Csutoras

    I think the debate on whether it is bot traffic or not is not as important anymore.

    The end result is that about 99% of all people I have talked to, my own experience running hundreds of campaigns, and from about everything I have read, is this:

    The quality of likes from a Facebook campaign geared towards generating likes is horribly bad.

    I would not recommend nor will I pay for horribly bad results, bot or not.

  • Marty

    Brett, Yeah, likes are worthless anyway. FB is great for sending great psychographic traffic to your external destination URL. If you do that by way of great content, packaged well on the FB brand wall, then focused likes can be the side benefit. At the end of the day we care about traffic that goes to our website (that we own) that converts. All the rest is social happy talk. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  • Marty

    One other note. We’ve sold more with FB Ads than most marketers are able to sell with search :). This is especially true for b2b. Cherrio! Off to London dinner.

  • kamran ata

    i have a company unikvisitor who does social media marketing in Pakistan and written above issues are their but this is not it i found some new things which are not in front of facebook inc.

    1. people are making fan pages like poetry,love etc bringing fake likes upto 500,000 and then selling pages to different users of the example is

    this is a group which has 500,000 users these guys are useing it as a spam and god know what not is posted on it .

    2. people who has pages swap pages with others in order to gain likes .

    3. people offering status updates upto 5 perday image posting etc but the most important thing is these guys
    dont know how much traffic to offer because this is all fake .

    not only this companies are asking 500% more then what facebook charges for per 5000 likes which is also unethical.

  • Rick

    I found this article because after doing a bunch of promoted posts I
    noticed the same thing: Most of my Likes were kids who were liking
    hundreds and in some cases thousands of pages.

    I have to believe that FB is behind this otherwise who would gain
    by this activity?

    If you ‘follow the money’ it leads to FB.

    I’m pretty pissed about it because I really like FB’s marketing platform

    Obviously, they aren’t going to admit to it, but, is there something we can
    all do to get them to at least STOP?

  • Ingo

    Started my FB ad 2 days ago and the likes are flying in. Most of these “new friends” seem to do this as a hobby. Many of them have over 15 k likes. If this is kosher than I dont know what?

  • Daniel

    This is making me so angry right now because everything that people are saying is happening to me right now! Latin american pages and fake accounts that have like 1000s of other pages. Facebook is garbage for this. This should be illegal and they should be charged for scamming people.

  • Sandeep

    I agree, its a big fraud… What can we do for this? Is there anyway we can take his up with the right authority. Someone is paying someone and a country like India, its very easy to lure people to click and pay cheap !!!! I spent $20 so far and has been monitoring the profiles. So far more than 90% are not my target segment and they have the profile on FB only to click LIKE.. What a fraud..

  • CY

    I’ve just started a campaign 2 days ago. The number of likes did almost triple but it’s pretty evident that there’s something fishy going on. The number of people “talking about this” actually dropped and it did not create any traffic to our actual website as we have not see anyone from the countries who liked us on FB actually visit the site. Our site is also geared towards women’s jewelry while most of the likes were male? Just not realistic… Anyone got a solution to this? We’re all paying them for this scam!

    • Zoltan

      Yes, i do have: learn everything about FB Ad’s before you start one. Or hire some professional, who knows how to use it.

  • Joe Lee

    I experienced what most of you experienced. Until I learned from expert on using Facebook adv effectively. Facebook Ad is working for me now. I got sales and genuine likes from there.

  • Daniel

    ^ Joe Lee sounds like one of those fake accounts in action.

  • Joe Lee

    Me? Fake account?

  • Joe Lee

    Me? Fake account? Is that an accusation without proof?

  • Joseph

    Thanks for your post. This is unquestionably going on. I put a facebook ad out on December 31, 2012 and received 100+ “likes” in 24 hours. When I went to investigate who these people were, to see if they were the demographic I am trying to target, I noticed they all add 4000+ likes.

    On January 1st, 2013 at 10:21am a number of the people who had “liked” my page already had “liked”, literally, hundreds of other pages in 2013 alone. How can facebook possible get away with abetting this?

  • Omar Johnson

    I started my campaign, today i got 10,000 likes in 1 hour.

    Now every time i post a message on my wall then refresh the page in about 1 hour just under my post i see the following

    4000 people have saw your post,

    Does this mean people have come to my page and looked at the post meaning they real or is this something totally different.

    I used a bitly just to track clicks it said out of those 4000 who viewed post that 3290 people clicked through to biyly, im guessing this would make the users real right?.

    And if that is the case then i guess my likes are real and not all fake well maybe some who knows.

  • Andy

    In my FB campaigns recently, I have seen a large upswing in likes. Due to targeting, most are real,mbut I’ve weeded out around 30% that are clearly fakes.

    Being as I’m targeting only fans if the bands I’ve performed in, it seems strange that fake accounts would spring up to ‘like’ my page.

    Occam’s razor – the simplest answer is usually the correct one. Whenever I pay Facebook, a slew of fakes make their way across to my profile. When the campaign ends and I stop paying FB, the fakes stop visiting and I just get the real clicks, albeit much more slowly.

    I paid no-one except Facebook. I’m inclined to suggest that the author’s presumption of the fakes benefitting from nrelationships is not nearly as believable as the fakes getting a piece of my advertising dollar.

    Who stands to gain?

    If my ad performs badly, I stop advertising. With FB desperate to monetize the platform, is it really so unbelievable that they might be tossing incentive coins to certain hack farms for likes?

    I’m not convinced and I suspect that the perceived value of likes is about to hit the wall when the public at large realizes they’re being swayed by the friend farm version of a giant pyramid scheme.

  • Chris

    I did very well getting likes for less than 5 cents a piece, and ended up with more than 20,000 likes over a relatively short period of time. Things were going well. Then facebook pulled the Edgerank card! Their new system virtually ruined everything. Now more than 90% of the people who Like my page are not getting my updates. So the good deal I thought I got really didn’t turn out to be a good deal at all.

    This may be the problem with your page, as well. That is, the majority of the people who Like your page may not be getting your updates, which would explain why you aren’t seeing much of an increase in Fan activity on your page.

  • Peter

    This is still happening, and Facebook hasn’t done ANYTHING against it. I just checked the new LIkes coming to two of my Business Pages through the Ads. Most of them are completely worthless, coming from accounts that

    – have zero or close to zero normal activity on Facebook,
    – have hardly any friends,
    – on average like 60 – 80 Pages per day which is hardly normal behaviour on Facebook.

    Looks to me like Facebook isn’t interested or willing to stop this abuse. I mean, how many Pages do you like on average? I’m pretty active on Facebook and I don’t like more than 2 or 3 a week. If Facebook reduced the number of Likes that a user can do to let’s say 10 per day the problem would basically be solved. But why would they? Facebook makes money on fake likes.

  • Sandeep

    Its interesting, one Zoltan is making real money ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Zoltan

      ๐Ÿ˜› I don’t think so, i believe, that the majority of the people here doesn’t have a clue about online marketing, and they think, they are able to do it themselves , and they don’t want hire a professional. That’s the main reason. Secondly, every region, business, audience etc is different. Without any details is hard to help, or give any advice. I know only one thing: with FB i ten folded the revenue, and i want to achieve even more this year.

  • Mike

    This is interesting to see this. I just started looking into this on google because I manually generated 162 likes for my facebook page. There was no problem with these user profiles, and all seemed to look like normal users with full profiles. I started an add campaign on a coupon I received from facebook, and I noticed a drastic change in the profiles/people that I was getting the “likes” from. Most of these people did not have normal activity on their profiles, and a lot of them, based on their timeline, just opened a facebook account less then a week ago and had between 400-500 friends. Others did not have normal activity except for tons of “likes”. I am not sure what is going on here, but the feeling I am getting is that many of these “likes” could be worthless.

  • Michelle

    I’m very new to Facebook. I had 12 Likes when I started advertising. Every time someone Liked me, I got an email and saw their profile in my Notifications. However just today I noticed that I had 2 more Likes added to the number on my Page but didn’t get any notification of this. Then I looked at my ad stats and noticed I had 4 clicks for today (clicks=Likes). So the ad stats tell me 4 Likes. My Page tells me 2 Likes (but I can’t see who these folk are) and that leaves another 2 Likes missing from my Page. Up until today everything had been working without issue. In the process of trying to figure out what is going on I found your article. My ad target is within the US and within 10 miles of a town.

  • Mick

    I have a fishing charter business listed as a place on FB and have never paid for any ads, but I have noticed recently that I have a few of these strange characters liking my page with no apparent connection to it. They have odd foreign names, loads of likes and very few friends. I only have 730 total likes but most are legit. Are these bots and what do they have to gain by liking a page that never buys ads?

    • Mick

      Like Michelle above, I am also getting likes without being able to see who they are???

  • abhishek

    It hard to believe that even facebook is cheating people by selling fake likes

  • Count Teribil

    I reached this page because I have the same suspicion. I have a very small page in facebook that has less than 2 weeks and I started an ad to give my youtube videos more chances of being viewed. I’ve gotten new likes every day I’d say an 80% from India, but no more likes on my posts or videos. So I was just wandering…I won’t be doing anymore ad campaigns in facebook for now.

    I’d rather have 2 real fans than 1000 fake ones.

  • Shannon

    I found this interesting… after the BBC news story and high publicity of this potential scam in July of ’12, our ad results changed significantly. Take a look at the image here (http://playbuddy.com/images/FB!.jpg); the green box is the “Social Reach” and the red is the “Page Likes”. Impressions and reach skyrocket and likes all but stop, once the truth comes out. Coincidence? I think not!

    I stopped the campaign in August and since then obtain about one like per WEEK but at least it’s REAL and significant. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Michelle

      Shannon, this is interesting. I was just going to write to say that I sent feedback to Facebook explaining my problem and letting them know that I was going to cancel my ad campaign unless the issue was resolved. I never heard back from them, but a couple of weeks later I stopped getting fake “Likes.” I’ve continued to advertise but growth with the ad is much slower (but hopefully more real). For those still advertising, I wonder if they go through the Facebook feedback process if the same would happen?

  • petalsandthornsinbox@gmail.com

    Over the past year we have advertised on and off on FB. Usually just $5 here or there. Since we couldn’t afford the insanely high CPC for Americans, we instead targeted more affordable countries like Egypt and Mexico. The CPC being considerably lower (around 0.01 to 0.05 cents) which yielded many likes. However our song plays which are the landing page for the ad don’t seem to reflect this. It leads us to wonder if people in these countries have to slow of Internet our outdated machines or perhaps even a governmental block on music streaming. Either way, we have had the same hunch you mentioned earlier… Could it be fake likes? They don’t seem to comment or share either and strangely every time we make an update or post we lose a couple.
    If Facebook is selling fake likes or imbedding likes unknowingly on people’s profiles I would have to think there will be a very large class action lawsuit down the road. It’s all good though, Zuckerberg probably has enough and then some to pay us all back.

  • Artyom


    This is the phenomena that I’ve been personally observing with Sponsored Posts in particular.
    An average picture is that I can see like 20-40 Likes for posts I promote and now subsenquent feedback from these “people”.

  • Clint

    Very insightful discussion.
    I’m wondering if I stop promoting my fb ad, will those who previously liked my page (for profit) now also ‘unlike’ my page?

  • Zoe

    I know this is an old post, but it seems that this trend is still true. We started our FB campaign sometime back, (a month) and we were able to generate almost 3000 paid likes with just $5 budget per day. Don’t think these are all real likes, so not sure if this is good strategy to continue to pay FB for fake numbers.

  • Adam

    Thank you! It took me a while to find an article like this, but this problem is completely obvious.

    I just started a small campaign to generate likes and its “working” well. But, I’ve went in to check the profiles of who’s like my page. I’ve gotten about 40 new likes in a few days and almost every single profile likes over 2000 pages. That makes absolutely no sense. People don;t behave that way. I work in traditional advertising (radio) and I know all to well how hard it is to make a random person interact with a brand. A normal person may only like a dozen companies (and most of those will be suggested pages from friends.)

    I feel like this isn’t a bigger issue because people simply do not care. They want more likes. They get them. They’re happy. Screw that! I’d rather have nobody like my page than to have thousands of drones.

    I wish Facebook would allow you to filter out people by the amount of pages they like. I’d be happy if my page wasn’t shown to people who have liked more than 100 pages.

    Bad first experience for me. And it really is far too obvious that this is a major problem. Wake up people!

  • JWO

    Yeah, it’s definitely a scam. The most simple way to tell is by looking at the number of impressions. If you have 7,000+ likes and are only getting a few hundred impressions, that is fairly low.

  • Sera Bomba

    I would just like to put my input in. So I have a design business that I sell dresses to mainly Asian market (Japan, South korea etc) I started a ad campaign a couple days ago and while at the start I was getting likes from a lot of Japanese users (I had specifically chosen these countries) I had no increase of volume to my etsy page (that is all my facebook promotes) this seemed suspicious in which I investigated a lot of the profiles and found most of the ones I clicked had the massive amounts of likes, barely any friends, all the signs to say “fake” but I wanted to know more

    so I actually set up a fake facebook account and email and googled “get paid to like facebook pages” I then signed up to the first two I clicked and within seconds I was signed up, getting paid 1 cent a click to basically click a box, like it then reclick the box when it is yellow. I actually looked at all the facebook sites they made me like and they were just everyday joe business trying to pay facebook to advertise their company. I actually made the effort to really look at all the sites and see if there was any I liked to add on my real page out of compassion because this is seems is where all our likes are coming from. I just had to see it for my self

    Also my facebook was set that I lived in New York, went to school in Florida yet I was getting pages from London to like.

    Never again will I ever use facebook ads….what a joke…

  • Sera Bomba

    I would just like to put my input in. So I have a design business that I sell dresses to mainly Asian market (Japan, South korea etc) I started a ad campaign a couple days ago and while at the start I was getting likes from a lot of Japanese users (I had specifically chosen these countries) I had no increase of volume to my etsy page (that is all my facebook promotes) this seemed suspicious in which I investigated a lot of the profiles and found most of the ones I clicked had the massive amounts of likes, barely any friends, all the signs to say “fake” but I wanted to know more

    so I actually set up a fake facebook account and email and googled “get paid to like facebook pages” I then signed up to the first two I clicked and within seconds I was signed up, getting paid 1 cent a click to basically click a box, like it then reclick the box when it is yellow. I actually looked at all the facebook sites they made me like and they were just everyday joe business trying to pay facebook to advertise their company. I actually made the effort to really look at all the sites and see if there was any I liked to add on my real page out of compassion because this is seems is where all our likes are coming from. I just had to see it for my self

    Also my facebook was set that I lived in New York, went to school in Florida yet I was getting pages from London to like.

    Never again will I ever use facebook ads….what a joke…