Facebook Fraud
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Facebook Fraud

Have you heard of Virtual Bagel? Their Facebook
page has over 4,000 likes. They use the page to promote their brilliant
business model ‘we send you bagels via the Internet — just download and enjoy.’ It sounds like a joke, and it is, sort of.
This page was set up by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones in 2012. He wanted to find out what is the worth of
a like on a Facebook page, so he bought some likes for Virtual Bagel. Now there are two
ways to buy ‘likes’, the legitimate way and the illegitimate way. The illegitimate way is to go to a website
like BoostLikes.com purchase some likes. You can get 1000 for $70. Sites like these use clickfarms in developing
countries like India, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Here employees are routinely paid just 1 dollar
per thousand clicks of the like button. So Facebook explicitly forbids buying likes
this way. Instead they offer the ‘legitimate’ way to
pay for likes by advertising your page. Prominently displayed is a link to “Get more likes” with
the promise: “Connect with more of the people who matter to you.” And this is how Virtual Bagel got its 4000
likes. Rory Cellan-Jones paid 100 dollars to Facebook and the likes rolled in. He targeted
his ad to the UK and the United States, but also to countries like Egypt, Indonesia and
the Philippines. Now where do you think Virtual Bagel was most popular? I’ll give you a hint,
it wasn’t the US or the UK. But within a day he had over 1600 likes mostly from developing
countries. Now what was more problematic was the people
who followed Virtual Bagel looked suspicious. For example there was one Cairo-based follower
whose name was Ahmed Ronaldo. His profile consisted almost exclusively of
pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo and he liked 3,000 pages. Cellan-Jones also observed that his new throng
of fans was particularly disengaged, just as you’d imagine those from a click-farm would
be. But he hadn’t hired a click-farm, he had paid for Facebook ads. This story was reported in July 2012. In August,
Facebook reported it had identified and deleted 83 million fake accounts (that was 9% of the
total at the time). This resulted in noticeable drops for popular singers and celebrities. So did they delete all of the fake likes?
Nope, not even close. I know because most of the likes on my Facebook page are not genuine. In May 2012, I received a number of emails
from Facebook offering me $50 worth of free promotion of my page, which at the time had
only 2,000 likes. My YouTube channel had twenty times that following
so I thought surely this free ‘paid’ promotion could help me reach more of the people who
mattered to me. And immediately I could see results. Within just a few days my likes had
tripled, and they kept on growing, thousands per day. And after a few months I had about 70,000
Facebook likes, which matched my YouTube subscribers at the time. Now what was weird was my posts
on Facebook didn’t seem to be getting any more engagement than when I had 2,000. If
anything, they were getting less engagement. I didn’t understand why at the time, but I
have since realized it’s because most of those likes I was gaining through Facebook ads were
not from people who were genuinely interested in Veritasium. How do I know? Well because
fake likes behave very differently from real followers. Have a look at this graph of the engagement
of my Facebook followers. Here I’m plotting countries as bubbles, so this is Canada and
the size represents the number of likes I’ve received from that country. So this is the
United States, it’s a nice big bubble. Now I’m ranking these countries on the horizontal
axis based on what percentage of those likes have engaged with my page this month. So as
you can see roughly 30% Canadians and Americans have engaged with my page, but they’re not
as active as the Germans where over 40% of my likes have engaged, and they are not as
active as the Austrians a small but passionate group of Veritasium fans at nearly 60% These are all of the other Western countries.
So you can see that it’s common for between 25% and 35% of my page likes to engage with
my page every month. Now here is Egypt, where less than 1% of my
likes have engaged with my page. Now this is India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. That’s a big followings, but no engagement.
Together all of these countries make up 80,000 likes, that’s roughly 75% of the total likes
I had before the last video. And these are the profiles that followed me when I used
Facebook advertising. And they are worse than useless. Here’s why: When you make a post, Facebook distributes
it to a small fraction of the people who like your page just to gauge their reaction.
If they engage with it by liking, commenting, and sharing then Facebook distributes the
post to more of your likes and even their friends.
Now if you somehow accumulate fake likes, Facebook’s initial distribution goes out to
fewer real fans, and therefore it receives less engagement, and so consequently you reach
a smaller number of people. That’s how a rising number of fans can result in a drop in engagement. And from this Facebook makes money twice over
— once to help you acquire new fans, and then again when you try to reach them. 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. What’s worse, there is no way to delete fake
likes in bulk — all you can do is target posts around them. And I should re-iterate I never bought fake
likes. I used Facebook’s legitimate advertising, but the results are as if I had paid for fake
likes from a clickfarm. Now you might think the solution to all this
is just to exclude countries with click-farms from your ad campaigns. But unfortunately
the problem goes much deeper. Meet Virtual Cat, a virtual pet like none
other. Its page is committed to supplying only the
worst, most annoying drivel you can imagine. Only an idiot would like this page. And that’s
not just my opinion, that’s actually what it says in the page description. And I should know because I wrote it. I created
this page yesterday and I then paid $10 to advertise the page through Facebook targeted
only to cat-lovers in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK. Now I expected that
because I had excluded all of the big click-farm countries and because the page is so terrible
that I basically wouldn’t get any likes. But within 20 minutes I had blown through my whole
budget and I got 39 likes. So who are these people liking a blank page and costing me
25 cents a piece? All of the profiles were all from the places
I had targeted, mostly the US, but there was something strange about them. All of these
people liked a LOT of things, like hundreds and thousands things. And a lot of the things they liked were odd
too. Like in one account this person liked T-mobile, AT&T and Verizon. They liked Jeep
and Lexus and Mercedes and Volvo and Volkswagon. They like everything. Other accounts I saw,
they liked kitchen scrubbers and they liked mouthwash. Who reports that on their Facebook
page? It just baffles me. So the real mystery to me is why someone,
somewhere would click on ads they didn’t care about without making money from them. I mean
I don’t think these likes came from bots – they are too easy to identify and eliminate. And
I also don’t think for a second Facebook would pay click-farms to click on those ads to generate
revenue for them, so it really seems like a mystery. And then, in this article I found what I think
is the most reasonable hypothesis. Click-farms click the ads for free. In order
to avoid detection by Facebook’s fraud algorithms, they like pages other than the ones they’ve
been paid for to seem more genuine. I mean you can imagine 1000 likes on a particular
page coming from one geographic area in a short period of time would seem suspicious.
But buried in a torrent of other ‘like’ activity? They would be impossible to identify. So workers at these click-farms will literally
click anything. I mean where do you think Facebook’s Security page is most popular?
Dhaka, Bangladesh. What about Google? Dhaka. What about soccer star David Beckham? It’s
actually Cairo, but you take my point. So wherever you’re targeting, advertising
your page on Facebook is a waste of money. I wish Facebook would remove the fake likes
from my page and all the others. 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.
So the truth is Facebook benefits by maintaining this status quo because the reality is nobody
likes this many things.

100 thoughts on “Facebook Fraud

  1. I rarely/never comment, but I regularly watch your videos. does that mean I get counted as fake just because I am from India?

  2. Here is another real fan from Bangladesh 🙂 . But I admit that a lot of people in my country do this kind of fake facebook account business.

  3. Most people just watch and scroll. Unless something really interesting caught their attention, they wouldn't engage.
    I mean That's what I do. I find it completely normal that most followers don't engage.
    TBH, if I had read the cat post you made. I wouldn't have commented either.
    I have a facebook page for my restaurant, I think their advertisement works just fine. When I promote my page or posts on the page, I notice an increase in sales a couple of days after.

  4. This is enough to finally motivate me to completely remove my business page (and personal account) from Facebook. Thank you for this report!

  5. A real like from Europe, but I do not subscribe or follow anything. In 2008 I quit all idiocy of FB and never bothered again. When you 'need' FB your life must be quite miserable: it's not only a waste of money but a waste of time as well. I read real books.

  6. Actually it may not be a fraud. It might be a mistake.
    The likers are bot (facebook failed to identify them as bot). And it algorithm make it seem like they are doing a fraud. Facebook basically did what's the best for business. The best for business might not be the best for social

  7. Not for the video, but questions we’d like to know:

    Can robots think like humans?
    Is or will time travel be possible? What about time paradoxes?
    Should robots, if thought to think, have rights?

  8. I normally like your content but Facebook ads are very profitable you just don't know what you're doing or how the algorithm works in this case. It's a bit complicated but it makes sense why you're getting these low quality like and it's likely because you set up your ad to optimize for cheapest cost per page like hence the low quality results. I can make money from Facebook, it just takes some time to learn it. This right here is a huge misconception about it

  9. Happened me, it sad to think I pumped money into something worthless that I could have used in different ways for my novel.

  10. Weeeeeelllll…. l’m from the Philippines and I AM A REAL LIKER AND FOLLOWER AND LOVER OF VERITASIUM.


  11. It's very interesting because I paid 100s of dollars on Facebook to promote a product. Got likes but not any customers. I knew then it was all fake. I believe the same thing goes to Google ads as well.

  12. add this to the coming anti-trust investigations and resultant regulations.
    its not long now, we will kill facebook one way or another

  13. I quit facebook a year ago….i have deleted my account…..and when my mom using facebook , what i saw is a bs app….filled with many videos and pages she dint even like…..facebook is dad of google now in showing u ads

  14. Good analysis, however, consider this, does faxebbokwants engage people who bring more dollar revenue to them, and thus actually binding it to more profitable small set of users

  15. My fb fake Account is still running 😉😉
    And Sir in India people often use app liker or dj liker like any apps but they don't know that what are they going to pay for this
    I mean hiddenly these apps post porn link in comment section

  16. This video is awesome, I like it when people post direct truths like this. 95% of people have no idea about these things that affect them. I deactivated my Facebook ~2 years ago.

  17. Facebook has most of their income from ads, and if ~90% of ads are fraud, then what is the true value of the company if everyone would know the truth ?!

  18. How does a business account get disabled in less then 24 hours? Because, they don't know if I am real…? I didn't like anything and only joined local swap and shop pages. To what, promote my small business…?

  19. come start delete FB profile campaign and start a new social media page that is reliable….

  20. Even though I'm not Egyptian, I can say with certainty, because I'm also not American, that "Muhammad Ronaldo" is a very real profile. You don't know how much we love football and by extension, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Messi everywhere outside the US. If FIFA decided Islam was vile and outdated, the Middle-East would become atheist overnight.

  21. I watched and liked this video 5 years ago, and now when youtube recommended this video for me again, which is weird, why reommend something I have allready seen. I also noticed that my old thumb up like was gone. Now I have clicked the Like button again. Stay tuned for my next check up in 2025, maybe my like is gone again then. I have been accused of being a russian bot lately, but this is not the case.

  22. Funny that this was made in 2014, and you say they had eradicated 83 mil accounts; this is the same number Facebook touts as having removed most recently in 2018. I think they’re even lying about their activity to remove this fraud.

  23. I have Nokia 8.1 phones ,Their head office is in Finland and they do not have factory installed F**Kpage.
    Australia is in the process of demanding the F**Kbook and google provide access to users to their see what they are doing with the data.
    zuckerberg is now considered the most dangerous man in the world

  24. Veritasium, how would you even filter out countries if people just register their accounts to different countries? They could use a cheap VPN if necessary, but shouldn't be.

  25. Big surprise, big coorp will ban every way others can make money out of them, then use the exact same ways to make money out of me and you.
    Not even a new thing even back in 2014

  26. Pues por eso mismo eliminé mi página en Facebook y mi cuenta también. Llegué a pagar por anuncios que no tuvieron ningún efecto positivo en mi página. Soy de Colombia y soy un verdadero fan de Veritasium.

  27. This is one of another super facebook scam

    also one Question :
    How to be anonymous in the era of facebook and other social networks? just curious
    #Veritasium Thanks for the knowledge, also I am from India huge fan.

  28. I have Facebook and I liked your official page and I don’t use Facebook at all only once a month Facebook is a dump I use Twitter feels like human

  29. Hi friends the the group of peoples doing Freud with me here in Frankfort
    They put me front of hidden camera's and start talking in many political and non political religious and non religious even human color different nationality about business like they have some kind of business partnership with me like every thing they recording as I doing an interview with me they on camera's in off TV and start talking with me as this talk is just a friendly talk just this is general knowledge they are my friends because I am new here in Frankfort
    Just ask for helpe and they start blackmailing me in different ways
    Like vido recording like vice recording
    They steal copies of all my documents because I stay with them in different shear rooms when I change the room for my security they must send me there arranged place
    Are some one meet some were as a unknown person if I ask for help he brings me there arranged shear rooms and start stealing my data my bank cards my copies of my ideas they are mostly Pakistanis and there friends

  30. I gotta correct Dirk from Verstablium here, but Facebook is not prohibiting third-party click-farms because they don't pay their workers well enough.

  31. if you think that these likes are useless,you are wrong.
    whenever a guy visits a fb page he will see how many likes this page has, if the page has about 50k likes he may like the fb page(so you earned a legit viewer) but if your fb page has about 200 likes the guy who visits your page may not like your page (you missed a legit viewer)

  32. Not all Indians are not intersted in vertasium There are some people like us who regularly check in u r channel

  33. My sister and niece got ripped off $3000 each by an ad on Facebook about a year ago. I have my Facebook account, but only to stay in touch with people as I live abroad. I post very little on it anymore. I lost the appeal to post things, or even check all that often, 2 or 3 years ago. It's a time waster and warps your reality of life, relationships and friendships.

  34. Facebook likes, Youtube subs – they're just numbers. What really matter is engagement aka audience interest. Without that your social media platform isn't that social, and it won't survive the test of time

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