Why it likes you.
NOW hold on Facebook, I’m sure I’ve never ‘‘ liked’’ that page. So how is it that I am a ‘‘ fan’’? Sneaky Facebook can let people decide what you like on your behalf. Apparently there are big bucks in what you like on the site with more than 955 million users, a valuation of about $ 60 billion and business derived primarily from rather traditional online advertising.
The fact is, Facebook derives more than 80 per cent of its revenue from ads ( mostly, those often ill- advised banner ads down the side of the page telling you about a Big Gay Boat Cruise and Saving Traditional Marriage in the same breath). Some ads are a kind of social marketing, where a user ‘‘ likes’’ a product, which supposedly furthers social relationships with companies.
Facebook sells its ads by valuing this social relationship at a cost of a thousand ad impressions, and the cost of a click.
Both forms of ads are targeted at you on the basis of information you have volunteered to provide to the site, as well as what you share with your friends, what keywords you use in your status updates and what you ‘‘ like’’ elsewhere on the site. ‘‘ A ‘ like’ that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with a page benefits no one,’’ the Facebook security team writes. But who are they kidding?
It must benefit someone, or there wouldn’t be a black market for Facebook likes. The Facebook security team are busily removing ‘‘ likes’’ on pages that ‘‘ may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook terms’’. They probably should be directing their attention to the techniques used to garner those disingenuous likes in the first place.
Disingenuous likes may include exploitation of fans whose information has been bought by companies from other companies, by spam accounts or by malware.
So next time you wonder how on earth you came to like Virtual Bagel or Jeggings Are So Pants, rest assured it’s not you. It’s some program quietly ‘‘ liking’’ things for you.
It’s a nice idea that the Facebook police are out there zapping like- magnet bots and malware programs.
But when you consider all the kids under 13 ( the site’s minimum age for registration) who are Facebooking without a problem, it’s little comfort.
You may not like it, but you signed up for it. And perhaps you do like it – you just don’t know it yet.
APPS CAN LIKE THINGS FOR YOU
With all the ‘‘ free’’ apps available for your phone, tablet and desktop, have you ever asked what it is you’re really handing over when you click on a free download?
It’s highly likely a free app will require access to a variety of facets of your phone’s personal information, opening you up as a valued client for targeted advertising. Even if you did pay for the app, your phone maker or service provider probably has information contracts in place anyway.
WEBSITES CAN LIKE THINGS FOR YOU
If you’ve visited any website that engages in advertising, particularly in ‘‘ social proof’’ type advertising ( where users are likely to trust the opinions of their friends and follow their lead in what to read or like), you’re fair game.
There’s also the sneaky ‘‘ iframe’’ trick with some fan pages, that enables them to execute any kind of script within another page. For example, they can run a script that means you will automatically ‘‘ like’’ a page by simply visiting a site outside Facebook while logged in to Facebook.