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Is a Facebook Scandal Brewing?

Monday at 11:07 am a start up tech company called Limited Run posted a highly controversial post on Facebook. The post is getting some attention too. Limited Run’s FB Page has a total of 2011 likes. Currently, the post has 3,246 likes and 326 shares. It’s safe to say it’s gone viral.

So what’s the fuss all about?

They announced their plans to delete their Facebook page. By itself that’s not viral worthy. The reason why is what’s so staggering. The reason why is creating buzz around the web that Facebook themselves will not ignore. The reason why might actually have a devastating impact on Facebook’s advertising platform.

Limited Run has made a bold and highly controversial claim. Here it is in their own words:

The 80% of clicks we were paying for were from bots.

If it’s true, Facebook needs to be held accountable legally.

If it’s untrue, Limited Run will most likely be held accountable by Facebook’s legal team.

Their story is compelling despite lacking detailed proof. Here’s another snippet from the jaw dropping post.

Unfortunately, while testing their ad system, we noticed some very strange things. Facebook was charging us for clicks, yet we could only verify about 20% of them actually showing up on our site. At first, we thought it was our analytics service. We tried signing up for a handful of other big name companies, and still, we couldn’t verify more than 15-20% of clicks. So we did what any good developers would do. We built our own analytic software. Here’s what we found: on about 80% of the clicks Facebook was charging us for, JavaScript wasn’t on. And if the person clicking the ad doesn’t have JavaScript, it’s very difficult for an analytics service to verify the click. What’s important here is that in all of our years of experience, only about 1-2% of people coming to us have JavaScript disabled, not 80% like these clicks coming from Facebook.

What’s interesting here is that Limited Run is a tech company. They’re more capable of building and testing systems than your average Facebook advertiser. That’s not to say they’re incapable of lying or making mistakes.

The one aspect of this whole story that cannot be ignored – If pressed Limited Run “should” be able to provide detailed proof of their findings.

If this thing blows up and gets to court you can bet your behind that’s what everyone will be waiting for.

Will that happen? There’s no telling at this point. But Limited Run was very careful to mention that they are not accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up their advertisers ad spend.

That’s the conclusion that everyone is discussing though. That’s the non-conclusion that’s created a viral fire around this thing.

If you want to read the whole of Limited Run’s account of why they’re deleting their Facebook fan page click here. Do it today. It may not be there tomorrow.

13 thoughts on “Is a Facebook Scandal Brewing?

  1. For sure, you’ve got to be right. If everyone saw 80% fraud this would have cropped up sooner. But that brings up a good question – How much fraud is acceptable when purchasing a service from a billion dollar publicly traded company?

  2. Dustin said, “How much fraud is acceptable…?”

    Jeez, how far we have fallen. This is why I do not trade in mutual funds, stocks, bonds, anything “publicly traded.” ” You can’t escape all fraud, for sure, but you can (and should) stay away from systems where fraud is rewarded so generously. I love business and profits, but when they’re earned, not stolen!

  3. I call BS. Any good marketer knows exactly how much, where and what traffic is running on their campaigns. This “tech” company can’t figure out Marketing 101 enough to track thru a tracking platform? Their analytics are judging valid clicks by whether a user has JavaScript or not? There are so many more metrics to review, but I doubt they have any statistical relevance to show 80% fraud. Chicken Little… Nothing more.

  4. Theres a good chance the bots are Facebook spys. I can say from first hand experience. They have JavaScript turned off to prevent pops that are js based and can make a spybot freeze up.

  5. Unfortunately I found this to be true. I am in discussions with FB right now over a recently completed campaign in which I was overbilled for 294 clicks which I never received and FB is putting me through hoops to prove it. I will however. They really need to get their act together since they are going to depends more and more on ad revenues.

    I’m a small advertiser and can’t afford to throw away $100 per campaign on phony clicks.

  6. This does not surprise me… it has long been muttered in underground circles that 25% of facebook accounts are dummy accounts use to drive up facebook likes etc

  7. I don’t normally respond to these kind of articles but I will in this case.

    I was a victim of click fraud on Google Adwords. I can prove that because I have my great big settlement check on my desk. A whopping $2.14 to be exact.

    In my opinion, all Google and Facebook want is ALL the money. Anyone who advertises in either of these mediums deserves what they get. There’s one word that describes what these two companies really are and that word is GREED.

    It’s really a shame when the people who own these two companies have everything they could ever want in life and they just keep bleeding the small advertisers for everything they can get.

    I think the parties involved should be charged with fraudulent advertising practices and be held accountable.

    And, if everyone in the world would shut their advertising campaigns off for a month I think you’d see a big turn around in their fraudulent clicks rates.

    Sorry to be so long but when you gotta say something, you gotta say something.

  8. I have used FB ads a few times and never had this problem. I know several marketers that do quite well with FB ads as well. I am in no way disputing these findings but it leads me to consider another option that I am surprised has not yet been mentioned as far as I can see. I suspect it could be some negative SEO at work in this case. This has been an issue on Youtube with some unethical advertisers click bombing competition in an effort to get the account banned for violation of the TOS. It’s not really a far stretch to see a competitor trying to drive someone out of this advertising market by inflating ad costs to a point where it’s not effective and thus the company stops marketing on that platform.

  9. Something is always brewing with facebook..
    I read According to its public filings, “Facebook admits that as much as 84 million of its users are fake accounts. Since Facebook claims that it has around 955 million active users, this is almost 10% of the users based, and most likely much more considering that many accounts are created once and never used.”

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