Facebook is tightening its security rules and using machine learning to spot suspicious behavior in a bid to clamp down on "Like" scams that hurt businesses through fraudulent activity.
The social network explained that businesses are being duped into purchasing Likes from companies that guarantee a certain number in order to help a business build up its brand awareness. But many of the Likes are fake, and the company providing them is committing fraud.
By guaranteeing Likes to a client company, these scammers generate fake Likes directed at a company's page and then charge the client for the service.
But given that these Likes are not from genuine users, the benefits they provide are negligible, thereby effectively defrauding the client company.
Businesses generally chase page Likes in order for their posts to appear on the pages of users who did the liking. However, the use of fake profiles to generate false Likes erodes the effectiveness of this awareness-building tactic.
In a website post, Matt Jones, site integrity engineer at Facebook, explains that such scams are effective only when they are scalable and that the company is taking measures to prevent them.
"To make it harder for these scams to be profitable, our abuse-fighting team builds and constantly updates a combination of automated and manual systems that help us catch suspicious activity at various points of interaction on the site, including registration, friending, liking, and messaging," he says.
Jones also says that Facebook is using more sophisticated tools and has contributed some of its spam-fighting technology to academics in a bid to help companies combat similar problems with scammers.
"We want to help block spam no matter where it spreads," he says.
While Facebook explores the use of machine learning and other technologies to combat scammers, Jones also says that the company will use legal judgments against fraudulent companies.
Facebook will also take action to stifle scammer operations by slowing their account activity if unusually high volumes of Likes are detected.
Jones encourages businesses to be vigilant about fraudulent activity and to use Facebook to drive in-store sales or boost app downloads rather than rely on third-parties to generate page Likes.