Facebook's Controversial "Fake Likes" Come From The Dead, The Living, And Some In Between

Users of the social network find themselves endorsing brands they never really would.

Facebook has already sailed into controversy with the news that dead people on its network are liking pages. The story was broken by ReadWrite on Tuesday, but has been taken up by the site's editor, Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs) who, if you appreciate irony, calls the phenomenon Fake Liking. Some users are finding the situation upsetting, when deceased friends appear in their feeds to be endorsing something. As one Reddit commenter put it, "I cry. I Hide. I wish it would stop." Now these "fake likes" are extending to the living, with users finding that they are endorsing products or services that they would never normally do so. Weight-loss cures, Walmart, that sort of thing.

The problem, says Facebook, is that if a dead person's account is not "memorialized," then it will continue to act like a living, breathing Facebook page. The living bit is more complicated. Is it something to do with Facebook's third-party connection policy? Has their algorithm gone a bit wonky? Is it to do with Twitter spam? Or is it just a case of Facebook wanting to maximize its advertising revenue? (Let's face it, which tech firm wouldn't?)

Fast Company reached out to Facebook for a comment and are waiting for a response. We'll update as soon as we hear back.

Facebook yesterday re-tweaked its privacy policy (for the umpteenth time), just days after the result of its final ever user vote, ostensibly over the potential merging of Instagram and Facebook data. Users now have an extra layer of privacy control, allowing them to say who views their feed and who doesn't. There is, however, a payoff. Anyone wanting to exempt themselves from Facebook's search engine can no longer do so.

[Image from Flickr user Adventures of Pam & Frank]

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