Derek Muller – who is behind the science YouTube channel Veritasium and a reporter for the ABC’s science program Catalyst – has released a new video that explores the world of Facebook advertising; and comes to the conclusion that advertising on Facebook is useless and that the social network is indirectly benefiting from the fake likes.
Muller said last year, he decided to use the free $50 voucher that Facebook was sending constantly to his inbox. He wanted to increase the number of likes on his page because, at the time, his page had around 2,000 likes while his YouTube channel had 20 times that number. However, despite the increase of people liking his page, he saw less people engaging with the page.
He found that the likes he purchased on Facebook – through official means – were actually fake accounts. In the graph below, the countries where he received the most likes were from countries like Egypt, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka. And only one percent of those people had any engagement with the page
This poses a problem if you are a page owner, because Facebook uses a small number of fans to determine if your post appears on the newsfeed on all of those who liked the page – by seeing if those fans liked and/or commented on the post.
The more fake likes you have, the more Facebook uses the fake accounts are used to determine if that post appears – meaning that your post will never show up to all of your followers since fake profiles don’t like or comment on posts.
“From this, Facebook makes money twice over – once to help you acquire new fans, and then again when you try to reach them,” Muller concludes. “I mean your organic reach may be so restricted by the lack of engagement that your only option is to pay to promote the post.”
In fact, Muller goes so far in saying that Facebook indirectly benefits from the fake likes – and that could be the motivation why Facebook is not letting people page administrators remove these fake profiles from their page.
“I wish Facebook would remove the fake likes from my page and all the others,” Muller said.
“But that would mean admitting that they have generated significant ad revenue from clicks that weren’t genuine, which then suppressed the reach of pages who had low engagement, forcing those pages to pay again to reach inauthentic fans.”