After announcing last month that almost 9% of accounts were fake, duplicate or undesired, Facebook stated that it would scrub the network of those users. According to the company, the cleaning started yesterday as marketing managers woke up this morning to find tens of thousands of fans dropped from their brands’ Facebook pages. However, according to Facebook, the impact in the drops in likes should be minimal- less than 1%- if brands had abided by Facebook terms and hadn’t engaged in purchasing fans from unverified sources.

Research from L2 show that some of the greatest number of fan count drops occurred with celebrities and recording artists: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Beyonce led the way with the highest number of fans lost. However, despite the large decrease in pure numbers of fans, the percentage of the drop for all three brands were well under 1%. On the flip side, many international pages- especially hospitality brands- experienced the steepest drop of fans in percentage terms. Three Sofitel Morocco brands experienced major percentage drops (up to -18%) followed by a Hilton in Spain (-7%) and Radisson Blu in Australia (-5%). The high percentage of these pages may be in part due to the pages having a much lower fan count (in the thousands) to begin with.

Facebook said that the reason for the scrub, dubbed by TechCrunch as “Operation Unlike” was to prevent phising and phony activities.  It is also important to provide brands with an genuine representation of their consumers and fans as Facebook seeks to expand its advertising platform.

Though brands may see their overall numbers decrease, the sweep is a positive move forward.  “Fans” that won’t act to engage in a meaningful way or purchase obviously hold no value for the brand.  As Facebook wrote in their blog post last month: “Users will continue to connect to the Pages and Profiles they authentically want to subscribe to, and Pages will have a more accurate measurement of fan count and demographics. This improvement will allow Pages to produce ever more relevant and interesting content, and brands will see an increase in true engagement around their content.”

The move is also a positive step for social networks, all of which are plagued with fake accounts.  We’re hoping this bold move by Facebook sets precedence for other networks, such as Twitter, to follow suit.


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