THIS JUST IN! BREAKING! The use of “Like” on Facebook might not be completely sincere and heartfelt. WHAT?! I KNOW! CALL YOUR FAMILY AND MAKE SURE THEY’RE OKAY!
Facebook has admitted that many accounts on the service are fakes, ginned up to look like ordinary people for the purpose of tricking regular people into Friending them. Then comes the spam and the messages sent out to your friends. Companies want to have a lot of people Like them on Facebook but many of those fans are just lines of code in a spambot program.
A disproportionate number of these accounts appear to emanate from Egypt and the Philippines.
One, going by the name Agung Pratama Sevenfoldism, showed his date of birth as 1997 and said he had been a manager at Chevron in 2010.
So the BBC ran an experiment:
The BBC created a Facebook page for VirtualBagel - a made-up company with no products. The number of "likes" it attracted from Egypt and the Philippines was out of proportion to other countries targeted such as the US and UK. One Cairo-based fan called himself Ahmed Ronaldo and claimed to work at Real Madrid.
The Beeb quotes Tech Report regular Graham Cluley of Sophos:
"Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them," he said.
"We know some of these accounts are run by computer software with one person puppeteering thousands of profiles from a single desk handing out commands such as: 'like' as many pages as you can to create a large community.”