Got Fake Facebook Fans? How to Protect Your Facebook Page

social media how to Do you have fake fans on your Page?

Do you know how to tell?

In February, Facebook announced that it had 1.23 billion monthly active users and up to 11.2% of those users are fake.

In this article I’ll tell you how to spot fake Facebook fans and what to do about them.

Fake Fans Hurt Engagement

Facebook has been actively trying to get rid of spam and phony profiles since early 2012, but like weeds, they keep coming back.

When Facebook detects spammy comments on your Page or likes from fake Facebook accounts (whether purchased or not), they remove your Page updates from the news feed. You end up losing a significant part (if not all) of your reach and engagement.

In mid-2013 and early 2014, Facebook made big changes to their news feed algorithm in an attempt to filter out spammy and poor-quality content. Pages that provide the most relevant content and have high true engagement have the best chance of appearing prominently in the news feed.

facebook news feed article

Facebook has been fighting spammers and fake profiles for years.

Facebook Pages with low true engagement, spammy posts, too many engagement requests and deceiving information are penalized and dropped from the news feed.

Beyond poor content, Facebook can tell the difference between phony fans and the real deal. If a Page tries to game the system (e.g., by buying likes), it’s just a matter of time before their content is dropped too.

Unfortunately, many small business owners have paid the price because they weren’t aware that buying likes is a bad business practice that results in penalties.

#1: Identify Fake Accounts

Whether fans were bought or not, you need to know how to identify them so you can remove them and avoid being dinged by Facebook. Most of the time you can tell if a fan is fake by looking at location, profile and cover photos and how often they interact with your Page.

Phony Facebook accounts usually show less activity then the average user. In fact, studies show that 43% of fake profiles have never even updated their Facebook status. If you click over to a profile and don’t see updates or if you notice the profile is associated with any like exchange groups, they’re probably spammers.

As a Facebook Page owner, you should know who your target demographic is and where they live. If you run a Phoenix plumbing company, but 2,000 of your total 3,500 Facebook fans are from Bangladesh or India, it should raise a red flag (because it’s definitely raising a flag for Facebook).

facebook community header image

Yes, there are communities devoted to creating fake profiles and spamming Pages.

Pictures are also a big tipoff—you can tell a lot from a profile picture. Spammers and fakers usually have what I like to call ‘magazine profile pictures and cover photos.’ There’s always something off about them—they’re either too perfect or trying too hard to be inconspicuous.

It’s always a good idea to cross-check profile pictures or cover photos with Google Images. If the image turns up a few times on a few different social media accounts under different names, you’ve got yourself a fake account.

And keep an eye out for questionable female profile pictures. According to a Barracuda Labs study, fake profile users are female 97% of the time.

Another way you can figure out if an account is fake or spammy is by gauging their interaction. If a fan’s only purpose is to enter contests or like every Page under the sun (in exchange for money) without a general pattern, they’re most likely spammers.

#2: Remove Fake Fans

Removing fake accounts is actually the easy part. Simply switch to using Facebook as your Page (rather than as your personal profile).

In the Notifications bar click the Friends/Fans icon to see a list of your most recent new fans.

recent facebook page fan likes

Check to see who has liked your Page recently.

Select See All at the bottom to see a complete list of all of your fans.

all facebook page fan likes

Remove fake and spam fans with just a click.

When you find a questionable profile, click on the gear and choose Remove. That’s it!

#3: Protect Your Page

Let’s talk about how you can avoid spammers and protect your Page from fake accounts. Reviewing your Page settings and setting country restrictions is a good start.

While I have yet to find credible sources providing details on which countries have the most spammers (if you have this information, feel free to post it in the comments), I can tell you from experience that Bangladesh, India and Indonesia seem to be hotbeds for this type of behavior.

I advise excluding these countries from your Page to avoid spammers and fake accounts. To do that, go to your Page settings and find Country Restrictions. You have two choices: “Only show this Page to viewers in these countries” and “Hide this Page from viewers in these countries.”

facebook page settings

Restrict Page access to deter fake fans.

If you know you have an international clientele, choose “Hide this Page from viewers in these countries.” Type the names of the countries you want to exclude from your Page. No users from those countries will be able to see or like your Page.

However, if your clientele is local or limited to the US, choose “Only show this Page to viewers in these countries” and type in United States. That way only US Facebook users can see and like your Page.

Be careful about hosting giveaways and using hashtags. Giveaways are a double-edged sword. Sure, they’re a great way to increase engagement and/or likes, but they can be a magnet for fake accounts and spammers.

There are multitudes of websites dedicated solely to finding Facebook giveaways and providing that information (including direct links) to anyone and everyone who wants to enter, resulting in extra spam and fake fans.

facebook contest collection page

Hosting a giveaway or contest could attract fake fans.

If you’re going to run a Facebook giveaway, know the audience you’re trying to reach and how you want them to enter. To avoid an influx of spammers, offer a prize that’s either local-only or appeals to your target audience (rather than a general audience).

It’s a good idea to use a third-party contest app that allows you to set strict entry guidelines. Some good app options are AgoraPulse, Woobox and ShortStack.

Many Page owners like to use hashtags when they post—especially if they’re hosting a giveaway. But beware: At any moment of the day, spammers are searching for popular Facebook hashtags like #contests or #giveaways. Those people literally go through each of the search results, like the host Page and enter the Facebook giveaway or contest.

When Facebook began using hashtags, marketers had mixed emotions. It’s become clear that general hashtags are a great way to attract the wrong crowd to your Facebook Page. (Interestingly, branded hashtags tend to lower the risk of attracting spammers and fake accounts.)

If you’re using Facebook ads, take advantage of Facebook’s sophisticated targeting options. You have complete control over your target audience, right down to their most personal information.

facebook ad targeting

Facebook ads should target specific demographics in limited locations.

When developing your Facebook ad, be as specific as possible with your target audience, especially when it comes to location. Narrow your focus to include targeted cities first, and then move on to states.

If you target your ad well, you shouldn’t have any problem with spam or fake accounts.

Conclusion

Most Pages have seen a dip in overall engagement and reach due to Facebook’s newest news feed algorithm. But if you’ve noticed that your Page is really hurting, check to see if you have too many spam comments or fake fans and clean them up.

What do you think? Have you found spammers or fake profiles on your Page? How do you deal with those profiles? Leave your comments below.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Kandice Linwright

Kandice Linwright is a Social Media Strategist and Coach at Linwright.com, as well as Social Media Director for Quaintise.com. She is passionate about helping small business owners succeed in Social Media Marketing. Other posts by »




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  • dheeraj

    If you have more than 50,000 fans and how can you check one by one for fake profiles.

  • http://theimperishablebeauty.blogspot.com/ Riza Acebuche

    Yes, you can remove fake profiles but you can’t remove all because you cannot see all those who liked your page.

  • Emeric

    Thanks for mentionning Agorapulse Kandice! All your points are super valid, especially on the contest / giveaway side as they are probably the main reason for fake (or useless) fans in the first place when they are not executed right. You linked to the right SME post for that subject :-)

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Over 50,000 Fans? That’s wonderful! Congratulations! If you follow SME and execute the FB Marketing tips provided on this site, you should have any fake fans, right? You can always export your Facebook Fans through Yahoo, then go through the painstaking task of analyzing each one.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Have you tried exporting all of your Fans?

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Thank you Emeric!

  • http://www.sociallysam.com Sam Martin

    I was only having this discussion yesterday with a marketing group. I’ve had a big infux of clients lately with badly damaged Facebook pages. When the new algorithm kicked in their reach went bad, rather than work at it they bought fans, and then some more, and then their reach died. So now they come to me to fix it. Problem is some have 10k fake fans. I can identify the countries via the Insights of the page but there is no way I can remove all of those. So what’s the solution besides killing the page and starting a fresh?

  • Jackie de Boer

    Kandice, thank you this was very helpful. I just went through my most recent visitors and discovered and removed a number of fake followers.
    One even listed my page name as his previous employer. I’ve permanently banned him as a follower, any suggestions on how I can remove my page name being shown on his profile as a previous employer?

  • John Kwon

    The “See All” method is flawed. That only shows the 500 most recent Likes. Facebook has never given page managers the ability to see all of its fans. In reply to some comments, you mention exporting the Likes to view all of them. But what good does that do when, after identifying names of fake fans, there’s no way of searching for those names within your page’s Likes in order to remove them?

  • John Kwon

    And no, Graph Search results do not have a “remove fan from page” option.

  • John Kwon

    And no, Graph Search results do not have a “remove fan from page” option.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Thanks John for the feedback! It seems that we need to work up a “Part II” for this blog! If the admin is not able to catch the fake accounts as they come in (Admins should ideally be monitoring all new Likes as they come in) there are more technical work-arounds involving using the source code to ban users.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Thank you Jackie and great question! I actually ran into this same predicament not too long ago with a new client who had a Facebook user claiming to be a top-level employee. The first thing we did was adjust the Country Restrictions, then we banned him from the page, as you did. We reported him to Facebook and repeatedly asked to have his employee status removed. Unfortunately I do not know of any other way other then to repeatedly contact Facebook and report the scammer’s page. In our situation, it eventually worked and he was removed. But I definitely invite other readers to provide their input! Perhaps there is a far better work-around that I’m not aware of.

  • John Kwon

    Are you saying there’s a more technical method for removing fans beyond the most recent 500 using source code? If what you’re saying is true, you have the Holy Grail of page pruning. This is an impossibility, as far as I (and many other page managers) know. Please share! As for “catching fake accounts as they come in,” many of us manage multiple pages for clients, with each gaining dozens or more fans each day. It’s simply not reasonable to vet every single new Like on every page each day.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Thank you Sam and congratulations on your ‘big influx of clients!’ I love it! Wow, what a great question, and one that I am actually currently struggling with a client who bought only about 1,000 Fans a while ago. This is a tough one because clients are many times unwilling to part with their FB Pages, especially if they spent a large amount of money building those pages. It also greatly depends upon how much presence and influence the FB page already has. You must weight their current situation, reach and influence (as well as current real Fans) with the prospect of starting over at essentially zero – nada. There are other considerations as well, such as transferring the brand, potentially losing the custom URL, reprogramming all and any links to that current FB Page. There’s a lot to consider.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Absolutely! Where there’s a will there’s a way, even with Facebook. And while I completely understand the overwhelming task of managing multiple accounts with numerous incoming Likes, it’s still paramount as an Admin to do you best to monitor those new Fans. There are some apps and websites slowly becoming available to help monitor those incoming Likes. As they become more relevant and available, I plan on getting a “Part II” published to help admins like yourself out. Thanks John!

  • John Kwon

    Would love it if you could share the secret source code method for removing fans beyond the last 500. And your article should be edited as, clearly, “Select See All at the bottom to see a complete list of all of your fans” is incorrect. When you wrote that, did you know it only shows 500, and is not a complete list?

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Considering the complicated nature of it, I implore you to remain patient and I’ll either publish a more in-depth article on this site or my own. And you got me *wink* with the See All suggestion. I was associating this article with my own practices and experience, as only I can, where the See All option is used when monitoring Likes as they come in and not for use in seeking out previous Fans who were not monitored. Good catch!

  • John Kwon

    Please link to the follow-up here as a reply so I’m alerted when it’s published. I’ve been searching for years for this exact thing (removing fans beyond 500). There is no published solution to this out there, so you’d be the only one to write about this publicly, and you’ll have a hit on your hands. I’m excited to finally find someone that knows how to do this! You can imagine why I’m so eager to learn. Thanks in advance!

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Absolutely!

  • Jackie de Boer

    Thanks very much for the advice Kandice :-)

  • Love Alofadesigns

    I wanted to select which countries I could ban like your example did but this page layout is different to mine? Is this an old page example? I followed your instructions but could not see this in my settings. I looked both on my personal profile and my business page but your settings look different to mine.
    I advise excluding these countries from your Page to avoid spammers and fake accounts. To do that, go to your Page settings and find Country Restrictions. You have two choices: “Only show this Page to viewers in these countries” and “Hide this Page from viewers in these countries.”

  • Emeric

    Hey @linwright:disqus, what do you mean when you say “export your fans through Yahoo”, I’m interested to learn more :-)

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    What is your Facebook Page categorized as?

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Actually to export that many Fans it would need to be from your personal page, from which you can use Yahoo to export. I personally work with small businesses and have not had to personally deal with over 50,000 local Fans yet. However, with that said I have seen some new products coming onto the market that will monitor your page for fake fans or suspicious accounts. I have a feeling those websites and apps will become more relevant in the near future and can be used in situations like this. Hmmm, perhaps it’s something Agorapulse should get into!

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  • Gema Molina García

    How did you know the entire list of your fans????? It’s apparently against Facebook rules! And also, if I do what you say, that icon (for friends) belongs to my personal profile, not the fanpage’s. I really don’t know how you did it.

  • Katya Manges

    So here is a question, say I have 10K fans from India, most of which I am pretty sure are Fake. If I hide the page from anyone in India, what happens to those fans.

    Are their likes removed from my page? – I’d rather not have a sudden huge decrease in fans.

    Can those who have already liked the page still interact but it just doesn’t let new people see it? – What are the actual results of hiding a page from a whole country?

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Your best bet is to monitor them as they come in. For example, if you’re running a contest or campaign to increase Likes, it would be wise to take a look at all new Likes to make sure you’re not attracting the ‘wrong’ crowd. But you can always use graph search to see Fans of your page beyond that. If you believe the FB page is fake, you can report them to FB from Graph Search. If that’s unacceptable, hang tight and I’ll have more information on exactly how to ban specific user from your page if you don’t see them on the ‘See All’ list.

  • tonymweave

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  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    I can only speak to personal experience, but when altering the Country Restrictions those Fans who have already like your page from India will still be Fans on that page. They are not removed.

  • Katya Manges

    Okay thanks for the input!

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    You’re very welcome. I have another article in the pipeline on this subject with greater detail to answer some of the questions that have come up in the comments here. Keep you eyes out for it!

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    The ‘to be continued’ article is in the works and will be published in the near future right here. Hopefully it will be able to answer more in-depth all of the questions brought up here in the comments. Keep your eyes out for it and thanks so much for your interest John!

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    There are so many fake profiles are available on this kind of social media and also some of them are also part of our friends list, this is good to read like this blog and also aware of some poin to select friends out of it. thanks for posting here Kandice.

  • domi

    Dear Kandice, thanks for this, very useful. I have a question though. when you guys mention clients buying likes, do you mean buying likes from outside of FB or using FB marketing option to get more likes? In my experience using FB option for getting likes gets you a lot of fake accounts too. you mentioned reach dying for your clients. I would really want to know if they were likes they paid FB for.

  • charlesjmeyer

    Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

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  • Tiffany Wong

    They will still be fans but they won’t be able to see your page or updates anymore.

  • Tiffany Wong

    They will still be fans but they won’t be able to see your page or updates anymore.

  • http://www.likebulbs.com/ Eugene Than

    “Fake fans”, a very good topic to discuss : )
    I personally suggest to leave it there rather going through the time consuming clean up process. “Fake fans” is something hard to control, you will get it when you run Facebook campaigns and improper Facebook ads.

  • Pingback: A statistical case for purging fake Facebook followers()

  • abelniak

    …. adding a comment so I get notified of the part II post.

  • John Kwon

    Hi Kandice. Just checking in to be sure I didn’t miss a follow-up. I’m dying to learn your technique for removing fans beyond the most recent 500. Please, would you share with us?

  • Alex

    I’ve struggled for monthes to solve the problem, it’s actually pretty random. I own a magazine whose page was infected with thousands of fake profiles and inevitably my reach was damaged accordingly. When you right-click on See All the likes of your page on Safari from a Mac, you actually have access to more than the last 500 hundred likes. At least i do. I started to delete the fake profiles and ban them, but the next day my window was limited to 500 contacts and i couldnt load more. I tried again and again and this morning god knows why i started loading to the very first likes of the page, 10k+ and my safari window could scroll all of them. It will take me hours to do so but i’m relieved for i considered deleting my page and starting a new community management with 100 solid members who would invite friends but i have an established brand and this would have been an issue. True story, i’m based in Paris. I wish i could help all of you guys but it worked for me at least. Cheers

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Hi John. It should be published within the next week or so. Just keep your eyes out for it. Thanks so much!

  • Julie

    Does blocking countries with fake likes to your page up your engagement stats? Half my page fans are from other countries and seem fake. Deleting them one by one is tedious. Ads targeted to my current fan base have worked the best in the past… Can they still be just as affective with fake fans as long as I block those countries from viewing?

  • John Kwon

    Hello, Kandice. Any update? I’ve been waiting patiently for months to learn your trick. I desperately need to remove hundreds of fake likes. Please let me know.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Blocking countries with fake likes won’t impact your current engagement, it will simply keep future Fans from those countries from Liking your Page. I’m glad you brought up Advertising, because in a situation like yours I do think ads are the key to increasing engagement and getting enough true Fans to Like and interact with your page. It’s my personal experience that if you can stay the course and prove to FB that you’re using ethical marketing and advertising methods, you’ll get to a point where your engaged, true Fan base will outweigh those fake accounts.

  • John Kwon

    Thank you!

  • Atif

    Do you realize you are blocking 100 million active users by blocking India?









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