Even though Facebook has taken steps to eliminate fake likes, we must admit that we, like Bernard Meisler of readwrite.com, have noticed some strange “liking” activity on our newsfeeds of late.
During election season, we noticed liberal friends suspiciously “liking” Mitt Romney–and now, as Americans go about our holiday shopping, we see some of our friends liking things like Target and Verragio Engagement Rings multiple times. Per day. No one we know is that much of a bargain-lover or bridezilla-in-training. We’ve even read reports of deceased persons “liking” things from beyond the grave. What’s going on here?
The thing is, while several possible explanations for this phenomenon exist, some weird “likes” remain shrouded in mystery. Take, for example, one carless-by-choice individual who found that his profile said he “liked” Subaru, when he didn’t in fact own, want, or feel any affinity toward Subarus whatsoever.
Similarly, we’ve had friends tell us that they had to manually “unlike” everything from retailers to movies that they swear they never clicked in the first place. It’s possible for someone to like something by inadvertently pressing a button–especially while using Facebook’s mobile app. But this fact hardly explains the larger phantom phenomenon.
Mystery likes aside, you can thank Facebook’s recent business strategy — allowing users to “promote” their posts for a fee — for those repeated reminders that your friend Annie from middle school likes Macy’s. The new promote “option” has been lambasted from all sides — we “friend” people so we can read about what their cat did today, not because we care which fast food joint they prefer. Businesses, blogs, bands, and other entities that people “liked” in order to keep abreast of relevant information feel like they’re being used as well.
PR strategist and social media expert Ryan Holiday called Facebook’s “promote” feature the “biggest bait and switch in history.”