It can seem so harmeless, right? “Click like on this picture so I can get a puppy!” or “Click to tell her she’s beautiful!” But it’s often a scam (particularly in the second case above, when a young girl’s photo was used without her permission to create a fake campaign.
This practice is called “Like Farming” and thanks to a post that’s gone viral from Gary Moyers, it’s getting a fair amount of renewed attention.
So what is like farming? Facecrooks explains.
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.
Gary Moyers explains it even more clearly.
Once a page reaches a certain plateau, say 100,000 or so, the owner might start placing ads on the page. These ads then show up in your newsfeed and they could be links to almost anything… games, services, apps, even porn. It could be a recommendation from someone else who likes the page, most likely someone from your friends list. The recommendation is usually for something in an online store that offers commissions for links that end up in purchases. Worse of all, it could even link to malware sites.
In the end, the result is the same. Access to your newsfeed is like gold. And the price is rising.
These pages with all those likes often end up for sale. This page was listed for sale here. And even though it is against Facebook’s terms of service to sell a Facebook page, some people go ahead and list the page for sale ON Facebook, like this one.
This news has inspired me to go through my “likes” and unlike sites that look like like farming. But I have family and friends who like dozens of these kinds of pages a month – particularly on images that say things such as “like this if you love your sister!” I hope they all see this article and are more careful with likes in the future; although the likelihood of them seeing this link on Facebook in a sea of like farming updates is pretty unlikely, sadly.
You can unlike past “likes” on Facebook by heading to your profile and clicking on the “More” tab under your cover photo. Scroll down to “Likes” and it lists your likes. Then go into the “Activity” section, and this displays your likes over time. Good luck!