Some Facebook Pages Losing Thousands of Likes as Fake Profiles Deleted

On August 1, Facebook announced that as many as 9-percent of its profiles were duplicates, misclassified or undesirable accounts. Facebook said that it would take aggressive steps to remove them.

It’s started. Facebook has begun that purge of fake and undesirable accounts.

According to TechCrunch, “illegitimately created accounts are being deleted, and Likes gained from malware, compromised accounts, or deceived users are being removed.”

On average, this should impact fewer than 1-percent of your current Fan count. So unless you have a large following or participated in some shady practices to acquire your Fans, you may hardly notice a difference.

The purge is, however, noticeable on popular Pages like Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker, which lost about 100,000 Likes yesterday.

Texas HoldEm Poker Facebook Stats

A scan of the 30 top Facebook Pages (according to PageData) shows that 24 of those Pages saw significant daily drops in Likes:

PageData Top Facebook Pages Like Drop

The Purge Will Impact More Than Likes

We can only theorize the impact of this purge on Facebook Pages. But my suspicion is that we’ll see positive and negative changes, and it will go beyond simple Like counts.

This quote from TechCrunch oversimplifies the impact of removing these accounts:

If a Page had 10,000 fans but 4,000 were fake and it published an update that got 2,500 Likes, it might think only a quarter of its fans were interested in that content. But with an accurate fan count of 6,000, the admin would know nearly half the fans enjoyed that post and that they should post more with a similar vibe.

This suggests that the fake accounts are essentially dead profiles that have an associated Like but don’t interact. These fake profiles, according to this theory, are harming your percentages since they only boost your Like count.

However, anyone with a large following (or who views the comments of a Page with a large following) knows that spam and possibly bot accounts are very active within posts as well. These accounts are a target of Facebook’s purge, though it’s not clear what types of accounts have been cleaned out so far.

I’ve noticed that as my reach has grown, I’m seeing more and more spam and gibberish on my posts. But not only am I getting comments from these accounts, but Likes and even shares.

What this means: You are going to lose more than Page Likes; you will also lose some of the activities that make up “Talking About This.”

The Bad News

As your Page is cleaned up of these “undesirables,” your numbers are going to drop. You’re going to lose Likes and it’s possible you’re going to lose some interaction as well. You’re going to have some explaining to do come reporting time.

This will also be a splash of cold water if you have built your page through shady means. You may lose a very large chunk of your faux following over night. You’ll no longer be able to hide.

Even if you have done everything through ethical means, you’ll undoubtedly see some dips. This could mean that the way you evaluate performance in Facebook Insights will need to change.

That, of course, is frustrating. If you’re like me and countless others, you’re already dealing with a strange drop in Viral Reach. You’re already questioning the validity of some of these stats.

So it’s going to take some time to sort all of this out.

The Good News

Come on, quit yer whinin’!

If it means getting rid of spam, this is good!

If it means getting a more accurate measurement of your audience and interaction, this is good!

If it means having a better understanding of where you stand with your Facebook marketing efforts, this is good!

Once again, you can’t hide now. Strip away the fraudulent activities that have provided a false sense of security, and you may not like what you see.

But it’s true.

We’ll never completely get rid of spam and all of these shady methods of manipulating data, but the less you run the more you can focus on tangible — not imagined — success.

So why is this good? It will be nice to look at your Likes and know that you earned them. That they’re people who are there for the picking. That when you get X interactions, it’s because they actually cared.

It means that we’ll be able to run ads without feeling cheated when we notice that we spent a large chunk of our Facebook ad dollars on fake profiles.

By the way, you’re not going to give us our money back on that, are you Facebook? Yeah, I didn’t think so…

Have You Seen an Impact?

Have you noticed a dip in your Likes suddenly? Has this also spilled over into interaction? Are you seeing less spam?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • Jose Jimenez

    There are going to be some interesting conversations where there have been some shady practices and those responsible have to explain for the loss in numbers! I’ve read about Facebook looking at fake accounts so thanks for highlighting this.

    • Jon Loomer

      Agreed! Those people are going to be hit hard. But I wonder how much the rest of us will be impacted. When you build an effective audience, spam accounts begin to swarm it. We’ll see!

  • RuthSheahan

    I think this is a great thing. Two things have been very frustrating– when you play by the rules and others don’t, and paying for bot-likes. Glad to hear some of this may get cleared up. Now, if they’ll start going after the contest TOS violators … :)

    • Jon Loomer

      Agreed! This is definitely a good thing, even if there is some short-term pain.

  • Priya

    My Likes have in fact increased But my reach has dropped for the past few days, So now I know the reason!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Jon Loomer

      You bet, Priya! Same for me. My Likes are constantly increasing, and Viral Reach is awful. In fact, I took another look today, and all of my metrics except for anything related to Viral is up. So, for me at least… It’s not a major problem. Can’t speak for everyone though.

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  • cal

    First let me say that I think it’s GOING to be better from an advertising standpoint, but advertising and getting clicked on by fakes and bots has cost the advertisers a lot of money (and time). This has hurt the honest business person who spent a lot of money promoting their page. When bots and faKebooks (from gamers and others) click on your ad, you pay… whether or not they like your page. You pay with REAL money. Some advertisers use cpm which means that they paid to show the ad to fake accounts. It’s not really fair to the advertisers and has cost us time and quite a bit of money. Also, having fake people on your account means you are not able to market to or have those fake fans share with real people, because they are friends with other fake game accounts or with no one at all… from what I’ve been reading today, bots liked pages from ads so they appeared less suspicious to facebook as a company selling “likes”. I can’t wait to see the numbers once this purge is complete.

    I believe that my cpc will be a much better value… faKebook people don’t make purchases. :-)

    • Jon Loomer

      Hey, Cal! I agree we’ll be better off in the long run. Will be interesting to see the immediate impact. I imagine those who were doing shady things will be exposed, but I also wonder if we innocent folks could also get stung because of ads. We’ll see!

      • cal

        Yes, I am sure that some honest pages have already been harmed and will suffer more losses from “Operation Unlike”, but only in the short term. Those who ran contests to promote their pages especially. The page owners had to pay to run the contest from an app and then pay to promote it. Winners were chosen by the number of “likes” their entries gained… and they were only able to vote (or enter) if they “liked” the page. Now we are learning that the entrants were able to buy votes (“likes”) to win the contest unfairly, but this is after prizes were paid, advertising dollars were lost and the fees paid for the contest hosting service (per FB rules). The page owners lost a lot of money (and time) just to receive fake people… also the honest contest entrants were cheated because they played by the rules. I think there will be greater percentage dips in those small businesses that participated in contest promotions in the hopes of gaining popularity for their pages. I am glad that FB is finally cleaning up it’s site (both from an advertiser standpoint and as a consumer). “Operation Unlike” doesn’t replace all the REAL dollars lost, but I am hoping that this change will ensure that future advertising dollars are well spent… on REAL people. :-)

        • Jon Loomer

          Agreed, Cal! A cleaned up Facebook will be better for all. Thanks for your comments!

  • kat

    Do people really look at numbers and remember how many likes a business has from one day to the next? When I go to a page and see that they have say, more than 300 likes, I might form an opinion on how successful they may or may not be. However, if I happen to pay attention and see that a business has 2,237 likes and I go back the next day and it’s down to 2,067, who really cares? I care about my own page and if I lose some likes, it kind of stings but I don’t care much about anybody elses….the whole, “people don’t really care about you as much as you think they do” kind of applies here. I wan’t too hip on the “talking about this” feature at first but I now agree it’s a good measure to see what’s going on…I pay attention to that number on a page more than likes now.

    • Jon Loomer

      Kat — your competition may keep track of you, and if you report data to higher ups, they may care. People will also track big brands since they are so visible (there are tools to measure changes in Likes, so you don’t need to be on top of it). But I agree that most of this will fly under the radar.

  • Susan Shadburne

    Hi Jon,
    I had a significant drop in likes to my page today. And I’ve noticed that conversation on my posts has been coming exclusively from foreigners whose names I can hardly spell, rather than from my former following. For the heck of it, I ran an add today and up again came the slew of 5 syllable last names who post in languages other than English. This wouldn’t be so significant if it weren’t completely new. Are all these things indicative of this new purge? Or the fact that they haven’t done ENOUGH purging??

    • Jon Loomer

      I definitely don’t believe that Facebook is done purging. My understanding was that it was going to impact fewer than 1% of profiles, and as many of 9% of profiles are problematic.

      Something I’d be careful about is your advertising. When you run ads via the Facebook Ad Manager to get Page Likes, it automatically uses Optimized CPM. Facebook then displays your ad to people most likely to click. If you do the math, this undoubtedly leads to bots.

      To get around this, I create ads in Power Editor. From there, I’m able to select regular CPM or CPC.

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  • Andreea Alina

    Hi Jon ,

    I don’t know what’s going on . I had a page with 26.800 likes and I just woke up this morning and I have 21.978 likes . How is that possible ? Losing so many likes ..
    I used to think it’s because the admins and I deleted them but now I don’t know .

    • Jon Loomer

      Andreea — Really only two explanations: 1) A bug, or 2) Facebook deleted a bunch that were flagged as bots/spam. I’d consider either possible. In once case, you aren’t harmed because it’s just a number that will correct itself. In the other case, this is actually good for you since you get a much more accurate gage of “real” people to engage.

  • Sapritas

    I just lost 270 likes in less than an hour and its still dropping, i dont know whats happened i work really hard at networking and just posted a 1500 milestone on my account, this is embarrassing as people are now asking me whats happened im so upset too x sapritas if you want to monitor it x

  • concerned citizen

    Well i know of real peoples accounts also getting deleted! These are just excuses facebook is making to then force you to buy advertising thru them! It’s like Yelp a review site that uses this same kind of software to determine if reviews are real or not! They have become Greedy bottom line end of story! People should stand up delete their pages and move on to a more friendly site!

    • Bellevuedentist

      Nice comment. We are losing real people likes on FB and Yelp puts real reviews in their sandbox. Both are after us to advertise with them – duh!

  • Ilya Baskakov

    I really want to have a clean profile, with only real likes. Like you said, I want my ad money to be spent well, on people I know are my real fans. But I am getting some likes from profiles that do not look real (through facebook ads) Is there a way to make someone unlike your page?

  • LC

    I personally believe FB is behind all of this. I paid for advertisement with FB and received a lot of likes. I began to notice that these likes were mostly from members that seemed to be fake. There was a noticeable suspicious look to their timelines. I retained these likes for over a year…now these likes are being removed as these fake accounts are being closed. These are the likes that were generated when i paid for their advertisement. This is fraud & corruption and needs to be investigated!

  • Alex

    FTRSND scanned 90 000 pages before and after the purge to have an overview of the likes drop in the music industry
    This is interesting to see that somes artists did have a big drop and some others did not lose a single like
    Check it out

  • Kamruzzaman Royal

    It’s great that facebook is not just counting the numbers that’s why they removing fake likes or id’s and as well its a bad news for fake likers. But what about those who generate likes through Facebook ad? Suppose i get 100 likes and per like cost is 0.01 cent and after couple of days 10 FB accounts diactivate or fake whatever, and then FB remove those likes from my page, and I have lost 0.10 cent, So what about the money I have spent for those likes? will facebook refund the money ? And one more thing often users deactive their account for couple of days and then active again, So what about this type of user ? And In that time if FB bot find any page where this user liked, should Facebook bot count this fan as fake ? —-I hope there is a answer for it.