Some of my best friends are spammers. They don't hunch over computers in darkened rooms, far away from the reach of US authorities. They're just like you and me... well... maybe not like me since I don't spam people, but they're just like you, going on Starbucks runs and taking the dog to the dog park and making dinner for someone at their church and hitting like on Facebook because they do have a daughter and they do love her so, and that's what the Facebook status told her to do.
Yes, everyone who hits like on those Facebook status updates asking you to prove that you hate cancer or to type a certain word in the comment section and see what amazing thing will happen when you do are spammers.
Image: Janetgalore via Flickr
That's how tricky the original spammers are; they don't need to take over your computer with a virus and force you to send their message to your entire address book. They just put spam on Facebook and people willingly hit "like" and clog their friends' new feeds with the message.
There are some really good reasons beyond the fact that it annoys your friends why you should stop hitting like because someone's parents will get them a puppy if they get a million likes.
It all comes down to spammers playing with the Facebook algorithm in order to deliver some higher quality spam later on.
This is how it works: a spammer creates a Facebook meme that asks people to like if they think someone is beautiful. In fact, let's take a real example that you've probably seen in your news feed: Mallory. The caption is "This is my sister Mallory. She has Down syndrome and doesn't think she's beautiful. Please like this photo so I can show her later that she truly is beautiful."
So, because you have a heart, you hit like. That's how you enter the role of spammer, sending that spam message into all of your friend's news feeds. That should be reason enough to stop, but there is actually a larger reason to walk away from those types of memes without clicking.
The first is that those likes give power to those memes, ensuring that the meme itself and the page it comes from will get featured in the news feed. Likes are how the Facebook algorithm knows what is important, hence why your status updates that get a lot of likes and comments are seen by more of your friends than the ones that don't receive likes and comments. Likes generate more views which generate more likes. The point, of course, is not the meme itself, but to give the pages that create the meme power so when they put out other status updates in the future, those will be seen because they have a strong Edgerank in the Facebook algorithm. Once those pages have built up their Edgerank, the spammers can sell their very valuable page that will beat the system for the new owner and dump their message or product into the Facebook river where it will bubble up on everyone's shore.
As Daylan Does explains:
And within 3 days a post like this one has 70,000 likes, and someone somewhere is about to make a nice little profit by selling the page to a business wanting some quick wins.
Like farming also directly hurts the person who hits like since it allows spammers to quickly gather access to thousands of Facebook accounts.
Plus, there are usually very real people whose images or stories are being exploited in order to create these spam Facebook status updates. So hitting like hurts them too.
So pretty please, stop hitting like to show you hate cancer. Use your status box to rail against cancer, fundraise for cancer research, or express sympathy to someone fighting cancer. Putting up a link to the PMC takes more time than hitting like, but it actually helps fight the good fight rather than spread spam. And that is something to actually like.
So now you know.
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