If you use social media sites like Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen the messages that circulate around networks of friends gathering thousands of “Likes” and comments. They look harmless enough, but creating Facebook fan pages is big business, and your liking of a page may just be helping someone somewhere line their pocketbook.
Take, for instance, the fan pages that feature a photograph of a child with some sort of disease. The photo has the caption “Like if you think he/she is beautiful.” Of course, this tugs at the heartstrings, and consequently rounds up thousands of likes in short order. No one ever really stops to think about where the page started and for what reason. Now, like anything in the world, there are probably instances where the pages are legitimate and have no hidden agenda. But remember that there are plenty of Internet entrepreneurs who have no shame when it comes to finding a tactic to get a viral Facebook page started. You might believe that this is a person who has a loved one or friend and they are simply trying to inspire some goodwill. In reality, there are companies that employ Internet experts that will stop at nothing to create these pages. They will scour the Internet looking for photographs of people they don’t know or care to know, but they know that other people will have an emotional response to what they see on their screen. Soon, they’ve pushed the Like button and placed an inspirational comment almost without thinking, partly because they really support the cause, and partly because the pictures have a way of guilting people into pressing the button because they feel like they must be some kind of monster if they don’t agree with the opinion.
So, what is the point of creating fraudulent pages such as these? Easy one. To make money. Big money and fast money. You see, anyone can create a Facebook fan page for any cause they wish. They can then appoint any other Facebook user as an administrator to the page. When used on the up and up, this is so more than one moderator is there to oversee the page and filter through comments. It allows multiple users to add to the page and manage it. A great idea and certainly useful. It also leaves the door open for someone to create a page, build it up to an impressive level, and then turn it over to another user. This user can then completely alter the page, right down to the name of it. But the Likes and comments stay with it, even if the subject matter has dramatically changed from the original message. Then, they can edit the comments as well to make sure they filter out ones that are not pertinent or might let people know that something was amiss in the future.
So, a business wants to start a Facebook page, but they want it to appear that they already have a loyal following. They purchase one of these fan pages from a company that builds them up purposely just to sell them off. They pay the money, and the page is turned over to them. They then edit it how they really want it and enjoy hundreds of thousands of Likes built in right off the bat. This, of course, makes their business appear much more popular than it probably really is, and without any work (or good business practices) to earn it. People see that “loyal following” and think it means that the business is reputable. Meanwhile, the company or user that the business bought the page from is already busy coming up with their next photo-op to gather enough Likes for their next payday.
It goes farther than that, though. Facebook’s algorithm for sharing posts and pages relies on the Like system to determine what kind of clout a page has. So, not only does the purchaser inherit the likes and comments, but they also are acquiring the previous page’s status in the social media hierarchy. They will now be able to spread the word quicker because they will be featured on more feeds and search results. All with zero effort. If you ever see that one of your friends has liked a business or person that makes no sense at all with what you know about them, it is very likely that they liked one of these fraudulent pages at some point in the past and now have their name attached to a product or business that they never intended.
So, at the end of the day, if you want to like a Facebook page, go right ahead. It doesn’t hurt anybody…but it just might be helping someone in the financial department in a manner that goes against what the original page may have insinuated. If you don’t want your name forever connected to something, then stick to liking posts and photos from your friends and family and not from strangers, even if someone you trust is already in the fold of the page.