Image submitted by Katie Jackson.
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a bit of a crisis brewing in social media that seems to be strangely isolated in bands in the djent, metalcore, and progressive metal scene. Bands have started seeing an outrageous influx of likes from fake pages. On the surface, it could have easily been assumed that bands were buying up fake likes to boost their numbers, but it’s much deeper and complex than that.
First of all, the bands that seem most affected by this scam have not paid a cent towards building fake likes, and likely cannot afford such a frivolous and counter-intuitive expense. What can be gathered at the moment is that some bands may have bought likes through shady means, and to seem legitimate, the bot accounts also like similar or connected bands. While this does inflate a band’s Facebook likes, it actually dilutes each page’s content reach. Only a small percentage of fans who like a page see the content posted by the page, and Facebook has tapped into this as a source of revenue by making bands and labels pay to have their content reach a larger percentage. If a sizable chunk of likes on a given band’s Facebook are illegitimate, then even less legitimate fans will see the content, which reduces promotion and fan interaction.
Basick Records, Friend for A Foe, and Red Seas Fire for instance have all come out to share their disdain for the practice of buying likes and how the fake likes have hurt the scene more than anything. As a fix, some bands have blocked accounts from the Middle East, South America, and Africa, as they seem to be the source of the fake accounts. Via Friend for a Foe:
As you know, we aren’t too thrilled by getting all of these likes from fake accounts and watching our numbers go from a legit 7500 to well over 14k “fans” in the period of a few weeks. It skews our metrics and its dishonest as hell since they aren’t accurate numbers (Most of these accounts are based out of the Middle East area). My open question (and please share this post) to others who have band accounts that have had the same issue: Have you at any point paid Facebook to promote a post? Since Facebook will only show your posts to a smaller percentage of your fanbase (roughly 20% or so), we paid Facebook $5 to increase the amount of views on our post regarding [vocalist Chris] Barretto’s departure and us hunting for a new vocalist. After the promotion period ended is when the influx of likes occurred. Basically trying to determine if other folks have had the same issue roughly around the same time to see if the two are connected. If Facebook is selling likes like that, its pretty shady.
While the damage is already done with the insane amount of fake likes from bot accounts, we’ve unfortunately had to block certain countries from seeing this page in order to hopefully alleviate this problem. If we had legitimate fans in Indonesia, the Philippines, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, Kenya, Yemen, Oman, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru, Brazil, and Sudan/South Sudan, we apologize and understand that this is nothing personal. We sincerely doubt we’re as popular over there as Facebook’s metrics are showing and considering probably about 99% of these fake pages originate from those locations. Hopefully once Facebook sorts out whatever this issue is (if ever), we can lift the restrictions. It really is unfortunate we’re having to do this, but we conduct business in a legitimate manner and don’t want to be associated with fake likes to appear to be more popular than we really are. We enjoy interacting with our fans and this situation is making it difficult to do so.
Thank you all for your understanding and support.
Bands have even resorted to deactivating their accounts because of the matter. Vishal J. Singh has warned fans that his Amogh Symphony project will be closing its Facebook page, and others have followed suit. Basick Records had this to say:
The Arusha Accord have decided to shut down their FB page due to it being attacked by the ‘fake like’ crisis. Please note that this only intended to be a temporary measure, but we may encourage all our other bands that are being liked by fake profiles to follow suit if Facebook doesn’t get its fucking act together. This has to stop.
FB charges you incrementally by percentage of your fanbase to run ads. So when [Chimp Spanner] has a new album out that he wants to promote, its going to cost twice as much to advertise (because his likes have doubled), but not only that, you will be paying to promote the album to fake/illegit profiles, just in order to reach the legit fans.
WIN for Facebook. $$$
Big fat LOSE for everyone else.
…And let us add, that the main reason we would take out ads, is because FB limits the reach (around15-20% of our fans/likers) of every page’s posts in the first place.
The most compelling argument comes from Red Seas Fire’s Petey Graves, who posted the following video explaining the situation and discussing why it is so damaging.
In addition to the aforementioned side effects, Graves points out that promoters may end up booking acts based on Facebook likes with the expectation that these bands will draw a large crowd. Should the show not meet these expectations, that means the potential of being booked again could be ruined.
Something has got to be done, but what? Facebook could easily fix this issue by just letting fans see posts from bands they clearly want to see content from to begin with, but are unlikely to do much about it as they stand to make quite a bit of money from promoted posts. They also have the market cornered on social networking, and fans are unlikely to jump ship to a different site because of this issue. The best course of action that can be gathered at the moment is liking and sharing band content when you see it (this increases legitimate content reach) and adding your favorite bands to your interests list so that more of their posts end up on your feed.
If there are bands who are buying likes, hopefully they are outed soon enough for the damage they’ve caused. More info as it comes in.