According to the security firm Sophos, most “likes” on Facebook corporate
pages such as Ford, GM, Krispy Kreme and others could be fraudulent.
"Spammers and malware authors can mass produce false
Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick
people into befriending them" Sophos' Graham Cluley told the BBC.
According to Cluley, most suspect accounts are usually run
by a single person operating thousands of profiles via specialized computer
software. Most of the fake accounts appear to come from the Middle East and the
For corporations, the revelation that most of their social
media fans don't exist may mean a redesign of their social media
strategy with more sophisticated media analytics. For government agencies
like the U.S. Department of State and Defense--the notion the citizens
they serve may also be fake poses a problem for agencies that measure
success based on only Facebook.
Ironically, both corporations and federal agencies pay
marketing organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars for micro-targeted
campaigns aimed at specific demographics spawning a cottage
industry in print publishing and research social media to reach out to
potential customers and citizens.
But today's revelation implies there are additional caveats compounding the value of social media as a media tool or investment.
"Any kind of investment in Facebook advertising has
brought us very little in sales," The executive--who spoke on background
with the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones, said. "the fans you get from advertising
may not be genuine, and if they are genuine are they people who will engage
with your brand?"
For its part, the Facebook claims only 5-6% of its user
base--or 54 million users--could be fake. Yet with companies like GM abandoning
Facebook, corporations may need to rethink using social-media-as-branding-tool.