There's a huge Facebook scam going on right beneath our noses. It doesn't involve malware, phishing emails or hackers. Nope, this scam relies on millions of fake accounts that businesses, celebrities and other personalities can use to artificially inflate the "likes" on their pages and make money.
There are rooms of full of people in countries like the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and those people's sole job is to create fake online profiles on social media websites. These "click farms" can then sell those profiles to businesses and other entities that want to falsely inflate their "likes" on Facebook.
For all Facebook knows, these profiles are real. The click farmers use sites like Fake Name Generator to create believable names and back stories for their fake profiles. They then farmers create real email addresses for the profiles and verify them by cellphone using various SIM cards. They even comb through dating websites to find photos for the profile photos.
Why would businesses pay click farms to generate fake likes? Because social media is one of the single easiest ways for brands to directly influence consumers these days.
In 2005, Facebook had 5.5 million users; at the end of 2014, it claimed 1.4 billion active monthly users — a little less than half of all people with internet access.
Social media is big business. Celebrities can make thousands of dollars for tweeting out a single endorsement, and Facebook spam as a whole was worth between $87 million to $390 million in 2013. So, many people will pay click farms to boost their online popularity, so they can make money from advertisers. Plus, search engines like Google look at social media influence, so boosting likes and followers could boost ranking in search engine results.
Rapper 50 Cent, Paris Hilton, LeAnn Rimes, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and more have been linked to click farms in the past.