Following the announcement that Facebook was going to crack down on fake accounts, the hammer has dropped today. The social network began a massive purge of scam or ‘zombie’ accounts, whose function was to generate huge numbers of likes for fan pages –often at a price. This process is outlined in its site integrity improvement campaign announced last month.

As a result, some of the top brand pages on Facebook, such as the famous Zynga’s Texas HoldEm Poker, experienced massive drops in fan likes. The Zynga Poker page alone lost about 96,000 likes. Top entertainers like Lady Gaga lost about 60,000 and Rihanna about 22,000.

Although these numbers may seem huge compared to the average number of likes on a given page, they represent only a tiny fraction of the total likes of these giants, often under 1%.

What’s interesting to consider is the timing of these fake likes. If they were purchased early on in the community building process for these pages, they could have represented a significant boost in the awareness and prestige of the given brand, and encouraged real people to like the page.

This would theoretically no longer be possible (or at least in the near future) since Facebook is taking these aggressive measures to eliminate the fake accounts that could be enlisted to boost like numbers.

Some pages have reported a much more significant percentage of likes lost, up to 18% in one case. That page may have been in the early-to-mid process of like acquisition when its shady campaign was cut short.

Cutting down likes acquired through fake accounts has an upside for the brand page owners: their statistics will now be more accurate in reflecting exactly how many users are engaged by a particular post, without the fake likes diluting the numbers. This effect would be especially important on pages that have a significant proportion of fake likes.

The Blue Hat team has never and would never participate in these types of shady community building practices, and the playing field has now tipped even more in favour of agencies like us who maintain the high standards of integrity that make us one of the leading social media marketing teams in Canada.