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How much does a “like” on Facebook mean to you? Some people and even companies care so much they are willing to pay for fake “likes” to climb up the digital social ladder.

In the Forbes article, “Why Facebook Hates and Fights Fake Likes,” Larry Magid writes about the increasing number of fake followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and the problems that arise. Recently, Facebook launched a campaign to get rid of fake likes, meaning likes that are bought for a certain amount of money. Facebook site integrity engineer Matt Jones stated, “the spammers behind fake likes have one goal – to make money off of Page owners without delivering any value in return” and make profit by promising and generating likes to Facebook Page administrators” who might not necessarily understand that this does nothing to help their business. Some Twitter accounts have also been selling retweets as well. Even accounts on business websites like LinkedIn have been selling followers.

As an avid Instagram user, I see this everywhere. I follow many fashion blogger’s accounts and for anyone with over 50,000 followers, most of the comments are bombarded by spam accounts who post things like “get 1,000 followers now” or “like our page for 100 likes!” repeatedly.

Example of the many spam accounts that claim to get you more followers Image taken as a screenshot from Instagram account followfor1follow

Image taken as a screenshot from Instagram account followfor1follow

Consequently, the increasing amount of spam accounts affect the way businesses, entrepreneurs or bloggers that really want to engage and form connections with their followers, but many genuine comments are lost among the thousands of spam comments. I appreciate Facebook’s active engagement in preventing more spam accounts considering that they obtained “ ‘nearly $2 billion in legal judgments’ ” (Magid). What some growing businesses may sometimes fail to understand is that the quantity of followers does not triumph over quality. Genuine interaction is key and having 1,000 fake followers from Hong Kong will not improve one’s coffee shop business in California.

It’s interesting though that although Facebook has taken action to block fake followers and accounts, many companies pay big money for promoted posts. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all approve of companies that pay them to have their ads placed first or be a top trend. But isn’t this just another form of spamming by advertising on people’s feeds?

It has come to a stage when the amount of followers and likes on our social media indicate the level of popularity and self-worth. Many of us judge others based on the number of friends they have on Facebook or followers on Instagram and we are continually being reduce to a quantity. The emphasis and pressure to have high number of followers to indicate the popularity of a company overshadow the relationships that emerge from a pool of genuinely interested people which in the end will generate a healthy relationship between clients. Social media has become another advertising medium where what once started as a place to connect people has morphed into an platform for businesses to advertise to gain more “likes” than their competitors.

Featured Image Courtesy of Flickr User Sean MacEntee

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