While it's easy to scoff at the value of judging musicians by the number of Facebook Likes their pages receive or by the number of Twitter followers they've acquired, those numbers can lead to attention from record labels for emerging artists and sponsorships for established performers. The recent news that Facebook is officially acknowledging fake Likes and conducting a crackdown is ultimately good for the music business. The obvious question remains, will Twitter follow suit?
On Friday "Facebook Security" announced that they were cracking down on fake Facebook Likes:
"We have recently increased our automated efforts to remove Likes on Pages that may have been gained by means that violate our Facebook Terms."
"On average, less than 1% of Likes on any given Page will be removed, providing they and their affiliates have been abiding by our terms. These newly improved automated efforts will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes. While we have always had dedicated protections against each of these threats on Facebook, these improved systems have been specifically configured to identify and take action against suspicious Likes."
Facebook has previously responded to news of fake Facebook accounts and likes by claiming that it has "not seen evidence of a significant problem." However a quick Google search for "buy facebook likes and fans" shows that there are plenty of services prepared to provide fake popularity.
Given that Likes, fans, friends, followers and other relations are one way that both emerging and established artists show their value to labels and sponsors, this should be welcome news for those who've been playing it straight. As we've seen in the past when musicians were exposed for buying fake YouTube plays, a widespread understanding that some people were cheating emerged and many artists who had a breakout video were then looked at with suspicion.
Whether Twitter will follow Facebook's move remains to be seen. A recent post by Bill Werde looked at fake Twitter followers on the accounts of music superstars such as Lady Gaga. He employed Status People's Fake Follower Check that claims Lady Gaga's Twitter account is 31% fake.
Given that Lady Gaga and similar artist get quite a bit of press, even here at Hypebot, for breaking records for Twitter followers, the fakery has implication for many sectors of the music industry.
However John Herman points out that some of those "fake followers" may be simply people who use Twitter to keep up with the news and do not ever tweet. Such behavior would cause them to be identified by Fake Follower Check as fake. But Twitter reps have previouslyy disclosed that up to 40% of active Twitter users only read tweets. So there's a lot still to be sorted out.
That said, it will only benefit musicians in the long run to have a game that isn't rigged. There are already so many obstacles to success that removing social media cheaters could be a small but signficant leveling of the field.
[Thumbnail image cover of Barbara Kruger's "Love for Sale."]
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.