Books written by Ray Sullivan

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I Can't Like These Facebook Scams

Even occasional users of Facebook will post the odd photo, you know, hanging off the railings after a good night out or a cracking holiday snap.  If others see the photo they might decide to push the 'Like' button to show that they have enjoyed the image.

Now and then people post humorous or shocking images, sometimes of their own creation, sometimes picked up from their own circle of friends on Facebook.  In theory all of these originated from one person's posting and are so worthy of viewing they get liked all around Facebook.  Some of them end up with large collections of 'Likes', in the hundred thousands and even the millions have been seen.

It seems that there is the potential for a bit of Facebook's equivalent  to stamp collecting going on, with people attempting to get as many 'Likes' as is possible.  It's not unlike the obsessive collecting of Twitter followers that some people seem to indulge in.  On the face of it, harmless enough, I guess.

But, like virtually everything else in the on-line world, there's a darker side.  You see, when a posting gets a lot of likes then they start being promoted by Facebook.  There's a 'Like' ranking system going on that means the most popular postings start to get a higher profile.  In a way, that makes sense, after all if three million people thought that your photo of your dog sleeping was worthy of a 'Like, then so might another several million.

You may have noticed advertisers jumping onto the 'Like' bandwagon.  They want to get to the point where their promotional postings are high up in the 'Like' charts and hopefully taking on a life of their own.  That's why you see all of these 'Click Like to be entered into a competition to win an iPad' promos.  One randomly selected 'Like' out of three or four million is worth a tax deductible iPad.

What many people don't realise is that the 'Likes' on a post are transferable. Obviously the thinly veiled bribes from corporate entities aren't going to be transferred - they are pitching to get their own product front and centre.  But if the bribe of an iPad is not enough to generate enough 'Likes' then why not engage in a bit of social engineering?  But the corporations don't need to risk being exposed at rigging Facebook; individuals will do that for them and then sell on the posting ripe for re-branding.  Here's what I think is happening.

If we're lucky someone will produce truly amusing photos, video clips, witty slogans and will post them.  They get picked up as being funny and others, ourselves included, re-post them.  A good, humorous posting may be worth a few hundred thousand 'Likes', but humour is a flaky thing.  It wanes and we all have different opinions about what is funny.

What does seem to be picking up the big numbers at the moment are the images of damaged, poor and traumatised young people, often from very poor countries, probably long dead before the post starts to circulate.  The cynical originator of the posting will suggest that pushing 'Like' is the same as offering a prayer for the poor soul(s).  Bump up the 'Like' count and send it off around a suitably large circle of Facebook users and it should get a life of its own.  Wait until it gets into the millions of 'Likes' then wham! Sell it on to an advertiser who can change the post for one that fits their product range and viola! they are promoted up the Facebook charts.  More visibility for their products.

My view is that this is a cynical abuse of images that shouldn't be encouraged.  If you believe in the power of prayer, why not just say one and leave the 'Like' button alone.  If you don't, what the heck are you hoping to achieve by pushing the 'Like' button anyway?  I accept that pushing the 'Like' button doesn't cost you or me anything, at least not directly, and it's fair to say that whoever perpetuates these scams don't care so it's not like our integrity is at risk.  It's just that some people are cynically using you and me to make money and don't have the honesty to just ask.

If you enjoy this posting you can find a link to it on my Facebook page - open to anyone who wants to follow me on FB - if you 'Like' it, then perhaps we can build up a large amount of 'Likes'.  And perhaps just leave it at that.

Related Post: Don't Forget, Facebook


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