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Facebook to discern companies, fans

The home page of Facebook displayed on a laptop screen.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Poke around Facebook long enough, and you'll find hundreds of pages dedicated to companies and products. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a product that doesn't have a Facebook page. Spam, for instance? Yep. Cheerios? Also yep. A lot of those pages look pretty official. But not even Facebook knows for sure whether they're the real deal. Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports, the social-network site is going to find out.


ALISA ROTH: Next time you're on Facebook, check out the fan page for Coke. There's a funny little video there.

It's all about how two regular guys in Los Angeles created a fan page for Coke. And ended up collaborating with the company to build the official site.

But companies aren't always as thrilled as Coke with the attention they get from fans.

Phil Edwards is with Lonely CEO Media. It helps companies develop their Facebook pages.

PHIL EDWARDS: There's a schism between being very excited about user enthusiasm for a product. And then at the same time, there's an equally fearful mindset about not being able to control message any longer.

Facebook is trying to be more welcoming to businesses. By helping companies keep control of their messages. Analysts say Facebook is looking forward to the day when it can charge companies for all kinds of applications.

So Facebook is requiring people with a company page to prove they legitimately speak for the company. Facebook didn't return calls or e-mails before deadline.

Josh Bernoff is an analyst at Forrester Research who wrote a book about using social media in business.

JOSH BERNOFF: They just want to make sure that you're not confused about the Harley Davidson lovers page versus the page that was actually set up by Harley Davidson.

He says companies have no choice but to embrace social media. And he thinks Facebook's new authentication process is a way to help encourage that.

I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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