Don’t put too much faith in Facebook rankings of universities (or Facebook “like” rankings of anything else either).

I discussed Facebook Fraud on February 11, 2014 asking “How Much of Facebook’s Ad Revenue is Legitimate?“.

So who really cares about the “Inside Facebook” report Where are the most popular universities on Facebook?

It turns out Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge (but not Princeton) are buying Facebook likes according to Lenny Teytelman, a very infrequent blogger whose recent post filtered my way.

Here are some snips from Teytelman’s post Facebook’s Most Popular University.

I found it amusing that a Malaysian university took pride in “beating Cambridge” in terms of the number of “likes” and touted it in press and on social media, with ambitious plans to double their total FB likes.

However, the real story here is not Limkokwing University but the schools like Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge. I found it peculiar how erratic and unpredictable the top 15 list was. Why weren’t Princeton and Berkeley in that list? This inspired me to look up the sources of the “likes” for the different top colleges. Turns out that similarly to life science companies and pharmaceuticals, many colleges are paying Facebook to acquire fake likes.

Very easy to tell which ones fell victim to this by looking at the number and source of the “likes”; they all match the location of the school for the universities with fewer than 300,000 “likes”. But the schools that made it to the “most popular” list have “likes” from Dhaka, Bangladesh (Cambridge, Oxford, UofPeople, Harvard) and Addis Abeba, Ethiopia (Yale).

The most stunning example here is Harvard with 3.3 million “likes”. Probably about three million of these are fakes. If their cost per “like” was similar to ours ($50-$100 per thousand), it appears that Harvard paid to Facebook between $150,000-$300,000 for fake likes.

It is pretty clear by now that the problem with the purchase of fake likes, directly from Facebook, is pervasive. I just don’t know the scale of this. If startups, corporations, and universities are paying for this, how much exactly is Facebook earning from the fakes? And could this revenue be the reason why Facebook consistently denies the existence of this problem and makes it impossible to delete the fake likes once you purchase them?

University Likes

Teytelman notes that 3,300,000 Harvard likes came from Dhaka, Bangladesh; 1,500,000 likes for Yale came from Dhaka, Bangladesh; 877,000 likes for Yale came from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I Like It Like That

In honor of Facebook “Like Fraud” I offer the following musical tribute.

Link if video does not play: Dave Clark Five – I Like It Like That.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock