Did you know that liking or sharing content on Facebook can make unscrupulous and corrupt Internet scammers make lots of money? We discuss Facebook like-farming, what it is, the different variations it takes and how to spot it.
Facebook like-farming, in its simplest sense, is the process of attempting to get likes, shares and followers using exploitation, manipulation and/or deception.
Basically, every time you see a post asking you to share it, like it, comment on it, or follow the page that posted it, and there is an element of deception or exploitation, that’s like-farming. You see, in the world of like-farming, engagement (shares/likes etc.) equates to reach. The more engagement, the more newsfeeds the post reaches, and the more popular a like-farming page becomes. It’s an engagement “game”.
Like-farming takes on many different approaches, and the end-game of this phenomenon can also vary. Like-farming can simply be used by those craving the social media limelight, or more commonly to make spammers money.
First, we examine the different variations it takes, and then explain how it can make spammers money.
Type Amen if you hate cancer.
1 share is 1 prayer for this sick child.
Don’t scroll if you have a heart.
Like if you think she’s beautiful
The chances are likely that you’ve seen a post in your newsfeed with a caption similar to those above. It’s emotional exploitation that attempts to lure you into engaging with a post. The photos are almost certainly used without permission of the people they depict, and any pleas imploring you to interact with the post are self-serving. That is to say the scammers don’t care about the subject matter, they just want you to engage.
Fake charity donations
Facebook donates $1 per share
The claim that Facebook (or anyone) will donate money to help a sick child based on how many likes or shares a Facebook post gets is as deceitful as it is illogical. Again these schemes use photos without permission. No one donates money to anyone based on likes or shares.
Like and follow us to win a free Range Rover
We’re giving away 5 tickets to Disney World for those that like and share
Share this post and comment what colour you want to get a free iPod
We have 20 unsealed Playstations
Fake competitions are perhaps one of the most commonly encountered examples of like-farming as they attract those looking for easy freebies. Whilst legitimate promotions do exist on Facebook, ones asking you to share a post and follow a page are probably scamming you.
Mark Zuckerberg has said that if this post gets over 50k comments then…
Posts that claim the author has made a wager that he can accumulate a certain amount of post engagement is a popular way of tricking people into interacting with a post. This example will usually assert to promote some kind of positive outcome if the wager can be met, providing motivation for people to interact with the post.
See what happens
Comment “blue” and hit like and see what happens to the image
Posts that assert something “will happen” after you engage with them is just a trick designed to lure you into… you guessed it, engaging with the post!
Facebook are removing this photo?
Facebook are trying to remove this photo. Share if you disagree
This “call-to-arms” falsely purports that Facebook are actively trying to remove or censor a photo from appearing on their site, and implores users to share the photo, which of course subsequently leads to it going viral across the site.
If Facebook don’t want a photo on their website, it won’t be on their website. In fact they can pre-emptively prevent you uploading it.
7 years of bad luck if you don’t share this post
Magic isn’t real.
Share if you’re a proud child of God
Affinity like-farming can be particularly powerful since it targets groups or communities that tend to possess a strong connection between members. This variation is designed to create empathy through a common, shared connection, despite the spammers ultimately only caring whether you engage with their posts.
How does like-farming making spammers money?
While some who engage in life-farming simply have a yearning for the social media spotlight (i.e. they just want lots of followers) many people who engage in like-farming techniques do so to make money, and they’re willing to exploit and manipulate you in order to do it.
So now we’ve seen the variations like-farming can take, how does it make spammers money? Again this can vary depending on what sort of posts you stumble on.
For example, fake competition like-farming scams [that purport to be giving away free coupons, tickets, cars etc.] will most likely be attempting to lure you towards spammy marketing webpages that are designed to harvest your personal information that are then disseminated to various third party marketing companies. This is why this type of like-farming often includes a link to “claim your prize” (or may be edited later to include such a link.)
The people behind these posts are given commissions for everyone they trick into giving away their personal information.
However, like-farming can be even more sinister. Facebook pages that accumulate lots of followers can essentially post links to any kind of online scam. In the past we’ve seen such pages post links to spoof phishing websites, websites that are associated with identity theft, or sites that attempt to install malware.
When a Facebook page has accumulated so many followers via like-farming content, its future posts will inevitably appear on lots of newsfeeds belonging to its followers. This means the page can attempt to direct its followers to any number of online scams, which are all designed to put money into the scammer’s pocket.
Avoiding Like-farming posts
Making sure you don’t interact with like-farming posts and pages is important. The most successful like-farming is, the more people will do it.
Educating yourself about the different examples of like-farming by reading posts like this goes a long way to being able to spot them.
Before engaging with a post, you first need to determine if you’re being exploited or deceived. Evaluate the page that made the post and ask if it seems overly concerned with attracting new followers and encouraging visitors to engage with their posts without actually posting anything of substance. If that is the case, you’re more than likely looking at a like-farming page.
For more information about like-farming, we recommend reading the below articles too –
Related articles –
3 ways to identify a like farming page.
5 Facebook posts you SHOULD NOT be sharing.
A case study – Jordan Embry – how a Like Farming Page works.
Repost if you have a heart. Emotional exploitation on Facebook.
Originally published on November 2012. Updated October 2016.