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Facebook to shore up advertising platform by cutting fake 'likes'

Facebook has announced it is stepping up its efforts to clamp down on fake ‘likes’, as phoney accounts and actions generated by malware threaten to devalue a feature that is integral to the social network’s advertising strategy.

Many companies use Facebook to spread the influence and presence of their brand, with the amount of ‘likes’ they attract helping to bolster their reputation. But with so many of these ‘likes’ coming from people who often don’t exist, let alone care about the brand in question, the system’s worth has been derided in some quarters.

“A Like that doesn't come from someone truly interested in connecting with a Page benefits no one,” admits Facebook, whose security team is now seeking to monitor and censor fake ‘likes’ more closely.

“When a Page and fan connect on Facebook, we want to ensure that connection involves a real person interested in hearing from a specific Page and engaging with that brand’s content. As such, we have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook Terms,” says the company, adding that “These newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes. “

The latter violation refers to the booming trade of buying virtual support on social networks, as likes, follows and all are sold in large quantities by users who supply fake accounts. A recent study uncovered the extent of the underground economy on Twitter, with thousands of pounds changing hands to boost the profiles of brands and public figures.

Shedding the fake likes could be crucial in Facebook’s bid to convince companies it is a valuable and worthwhile platform for advertising, which may help secure the firm’s financial future in turn. Mark Zuckerberg’s security team will have its work cut out, however, given the site currently harbours over 83 million fake users.