How “Like Farming” Facebook Scams Work

likebuttonIt’s a common sight on Facebook: people posting images, videos or statuses and asking users to like or comment on them. The posts usually contain some sort of promise, like “if you type ‘MOVE’ into the comments section, watch what happens to the image,” or “if this status gets 100,000 likes, I will run a marathon.” These types of viral posts, benign though they may seem, are actually a form of a Facebook scam called “Like Farming.”

These posts work by slowly gathering likes for a Facebook page, usually full of innocent content like famous quotes or photos. However, the true purpose of these pages is often to gain enough traction in Facebook’s algorithm to begin appearing in users’ news feeds. The owners of the page can then post advertising and links that reach a much wider audience because of the groundwork they’ve laid by collecting likes. They can link to whatever products or sites they wish, including products that they may receive a commission on or identity-stealing malware. Some of these like-gathering pages are even listed for sale in online forums, despite violating Facebook’s Terms of Use. (The AOL story linked to above mentions a Facebook page about cuddling with over 1 million likes that is listed for sale at $7,000.)

Facebook users should be both smart and selective about what they like. The act of liking a page can associate a user with that page’s content, and with these underhanded “Like Farming” pages, it’s best not to give them what they want.

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