How to Remove Fake Facebook Fans

social media how toDo you want to get rid of fake Facebook fans on your page?

Do you need to know how to find and remove them?

You may have attracted fake Facebook fans without even realizing it, and those fans may be damaging your position in the news feed.

In this article I’ll show you how to sniff out those fake Facebook fans and ban them from your page.

Why Fake Facebook Fans Are a Big Deal

In April 2014 Facebook announced an update to their news feed algorithm that challenged Facebook page admins to improve their marketing efforts.

fake facebook fans

Find out how you can remove fake Facebook fans from your Page.

The bottom line? Pages with higher engagement and quality content are rewarded with greater visibility in the news feed, while pages with limited fan engagement and poor content lose positioning in the news feed.

What does this mean for you? If you have fake Facebook fans, they aren’t engaging with your content, and that is likely hurting your news feed visibility—there’s a good chance your real fans aren’t seeing your updates.

facebook header

Buying likes is a sure way to end up with fake Facebook fans.

A few ways you can end up with fake fans—intentionally or unintentionally—are buying fans, not targeting giveaways or ads and even creating viral content. You may end up with 50,000 Facebook fans, but if 25,000 of them are fake, Facebook has probably already penalized you.

#1: Decide if it’s Worth the Effort

Ultimately, you want to remove fake Facebook fans and avoid the Facebook penalties. You have a few choices: remove the fake accounts, transfer your brand to a new Facebook page or simply ignore the fake accounts.

Depending on the number of fans you have, finding and removing fakes can be daunting—especially if you have thousands upon thousands of fans.

My rule of thumb: If your page is performing well and your posts are appearing in the news feed, don’t stress about the fake fans right now. If you have 50,000 fans and only a small percentage is fake, it might be best to ignore them.

However, if you have noticed poor reach and limited engagement, it’s time to make a change. Whether you have 50 fans or 50,000, you need to find, remove and ban the fake users.

#2: Find Fake Fans

Go to your Facebook page and click the Fans icon and select See All. The list you see only shows you up to 500 fans. If you see any fake accounts within this list of 500, click the gear next to the name and select Remove.

facebook settings

You can find fake fans via your page.

If you don’t see any fake fans or have coasted past the 500-fan mark and need to see a longer list, you’ll need to use Facebook’s Social Graph. Finding fans via Social Graph is extremely tedious and time-consuming (I recommend giving this task to an intern), but you can find just about every single fan using this method.

Open a new tab to use Social Graph (keep your page tab open as well). Simply type “Fans of (insert page name)” in the search box and you’ll get a list of your current Facebook fans. As far as I can tell, this is the full list of your fans.

You can narrow the search results using the search filters on the right side or by typing the filter into the search bar (as in the example below).

facebook graph search result

Use Social Graph to find even more fake fans.

I suggest filtering the list by geographic location first to weed out potentially fake fans from countries with the highest number of fake accounts (Chile, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Brazil and the Philippines, according to Business Insider).

When you find a fake account, the simplest task is to report the spam account to Facebook. Click the arrow in the upper-right corner of the account result and select Report.

report facebook user

Filter your Social Graph results by location.

Of course, if you’ve tried to report someone before, you know that Facebook is slow to respond, if they take notice at all.

#3: Ban Fake Accounts for Good

This method requires a little more work on your part. You’re going to find the fake user’s Facebook ID and use it to replace one piece of code behind the scenes. Don’t worry, though, I’m confident you can do this.

Go back to the open Social Graph tab. Find the fake account you want to remove within the Social Graph and open up that fake user’s profile. At this point you should have two tabs open: the fake user profile and See All fans.

Now you need to find the user’s ID. Copy the profile’s URL then go to http://findmyfacebookid.com/ and paste the link into the box. The number you get back is the ID you will use to ban this fake account from your page. Copy the ID and go back to your See All fans tab.

In Google Chrome or Firefox right-click the gear next to the user and choose Inspect Element.

inspect element feature

Use the Inspect Element feature.

A box will pop up with programming language and one line will be highlighted.

highlighted line in html

Find the highlighted line.

Right-click the highlighted line and select Edit as HTML.

edit as html

Choose Edit as HTML so you can change the ID.

Select the user ID from within the coding box and paste the fake account’s user ID to replace the original one. Click on the coding box grey border to save the new user ID.

switch ids

Switch out the IDs.

Head back to the People Who Like This tab and select Remove under the Settings arrow. A pop-up box will appear asking you if you would like to ban the fake account. Make sure it uses the fake account’s name. Select Ban Permanently, Confirm and you’re done!

To confirm that you have in fact removed the fake account, go back into the People Who Like This box and click the top menu. Select Banned and you should see the removed user.

banned users on facebook

Check to make sure the user is banned from your page.

If you’re looking to clean up your Facebook page without completely starting over, this is the workaround that can help you out.

Conclusion

A page with thousands of Facebook fans might make a powerful first impression, but if those fans aren’t interacting with updates, that page will have a horrible time positioning itself impressively in the news feed.

To avoid penalties, your best bet is to constantly monitor incoming fans, especially if you’re running a giveaway or advertising. If you’ve already established a page, you can start monitoring now, but I suggest also reviewing your existing fans and removing the fakes.

What do you think? Have you checked to see if you have any fake Facebook fans? Did you notice a change in your engagement when Facebook’s algorithm changed? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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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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  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    I think the banning one would probably work the best. If you ban a Facebook account from your page, they won’t see your content again and you won’t have to wait around for Facebook to go ahead and take a look and respond to your spam report. :)

    Great post Kandice! Don’t think I’ve seen something like this on SME before.

  • http://quickmeups.com/ Zachary (QuickMeUps.com)

    Really nice info here. Fake accounts are an absolute Facebook plague. But at this point, with a small following on Facebook, and the politics / future / direction of the site, I’d prefer to use my energy elsewhere. For example, I’d rather work to build a G+ following, than spend a lot of time on a dying (I hope) platform. Thanks for the great info!

  • Jim Striegel

    Great information, but a lot of work. I’m afraid that Facebook would put a ban on me for reporting a lot from what I’ve heard.

  • http://intesols.com.au/ Moin Shaikh

    Kandice,

    How do you determine which account/fan profile is fake and which one is genuine? I guess it depends solely on the person making this check? I mean it is more of a logical task to determine a fan’s genuineness.

    Do you have any tip to share on determining the fake profile just from the page’s fan list? (Apart from visiting that profile and observing his/her profile bio-data/pictures, status updates etc.)

    Thanks

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Thank you Avtar! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Great point Zachary! It’s definitely a tough decision that falls into the hands of many Page Admins.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Moin, apart from all of the common ‘fake’ Facebook signs, I’d go with your gut. Thanks!

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Interesting. I haven’t heard that yet, but knowing Facebook it’s always a possibility if you do anything with too much zest you’ll see some backlash. Everything in moderation I always say. Thanks!

  • Scott Linklater

    There is a brand new piece of software just being released that makes this tedious and painful task completely automated!

    I’ve tested it and it worked really well. It’s a slow process even being automated but at least you don’t have to do anything and it can run in the background or you could set it up on another machine to run 24×7 so it doesn’t interfere with your work!

    I don’t want to hijack the blog post or come across as self promoting (I’m not an affiliate as I don’t think they have them yet) so I’ll speak to the gang from SME and if they want to let their readers know about it then they can post about it!

    Cheers

  • http://www.ansleyRDgroup.com/ Jason Ansley – ansleyRDgroup

    Perhaps I missed it, but how do you actually tell if a Fan is “fake” or “real”…?

  • http://intesols.com.au/ Moin Shaikh

    Thanks Linwright, glad to hear from you so quickly!

  • Michael Suhrbier

    I’d certainly like to know more about this automation.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com/ Hugh Briss

    And you said you don’t want to waste time. lol

  • http://quickmeups.com/ Zachary (QuickMeUps.com)

    haha could be, I just absolutely DISDAIN the way Facebook wants me to pay to reach my readers. There’s nothing more deflating than seeing that say only 5% have even seen an update. Sure I COULD dedicate more time to trying to grow organic contact and commenting but it just doesn’t “feel” worth it as the owner of a blog.

    Time is a precious commodity. I have preferred to use my time for content generation & networking with other authors, personal Twitter page, and now starting G+ personal account growth. Facebook is just too transparent about their ability and willingness to pull the rug out from under you at a moment’s notice. Why work to grow to 10k or 50k followers on Facebook if tomorrow I may have to pay so it reaches even one of them??

  • http://www.socialidentities.com/ Hugh Briss

    Have you checked your Google+ and Twitter analytics?

  • http://www.socialidentities.com/ Hugh Briss

    Going with your gut might be a good way of removing legit accounts and pissing people off. Would it really be worth having that happen? Unless the account is from some of the countries know for lots of spam and shows obvious signs of being fake, I’d leave it alone.

  • http://quickmeups.com/ Zachary (QuickMeUps.com)

    Yeah not a ton of click thrus from Twitter but also use it to grow personal branding + clout for future individual public speaking / freelance work, for example. I get a fair number of clicks from facebook but more from personal profile than blog’s profile. It could be great because there are some good potential readers there, but I would have to dedicate time I don’t have strictly to that resource. Right now each post only arrives to maybe 5 – 7% of followers, infuriating. Are you a big FBook proponent?

  • Andrea Janssen

    Has anyone else and any success getting this method to work? Nothing seems to happen when I paste in the new Facebook ID.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com/ Hugh Briss

    I’m a social media proponent. Each platform has it’s strengths and weaknesses. SME wouldn’t approve my follow up comment I guess since it included a link but I posted a link to an update where I showed my stats for Twitter, Facebook and Google+. My average organic reach for the past 30 days on Facebook is 12%. Google+ is 9% and Twitter is a dismal .5%. And that’s a dot in front of the 5 so it’s half a percent.

    I see a lot of people complaining about their low organic reach on Facebook and the fact that they seem to think it’s a unique problem when the reality is that their reach on Facebook is probably higher than the rest, even after the algorithm changes that have dropped it recently.

    FB users need to understand that most of the people who like their Pages are lurkers and never engage and that’s the reason they won’t see a lot of posts organically. The small percentage of fans who do engage and actually take an interest in your Page are the ones who will be your brand advocates and customers. So, I don’t care if only reach 100 out of 10,000, it’s still the most effective free advertising there is and the fact is that advertising on Facebook is far cheaper and more effective than any other social network.

    The way I look at it, if a business expects to use social media for free they’re fooling themselves and obviously not very serious about their business. Before social media name me one free source of marketing other than word of mouth. Companies have always needed to spend money to make money.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Haha. Right. Well if you follow all of the signs of a fake account, and it’s from a country that has shown to have many fake accounts, and your gut is telling you they’re fake, then go with it. Seriously, if you’re selling a product in Phoenix at a corner store, and you have quite a few Fans from an outside country who have never interacted or engaged with your site, I’d say you can use your gut to determine they’re probably not helping your Page at all.

    PS – Thanks for the comments Hugh! I’m honored that you read my blog!

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Haha. Right. Well if you follow all of the signs of a fake account, and it’s from a country that has shown to have many fake accounts, and your gut is telling you they’re fake, then go with it. Seriously, if you’re selling a product in Phoenix at a corner store, and you have quite a few Fans from an outside country who have never interacted or engaged with your site, I’d say you can use your gut to determine they’re probably not helping your Page at all.

    PS – Thanks for the comments Hugh! I’m honored that you read my blog!

  • Merry Strong

    If I block an account, instead of reporting it, does it remove the fake like?

  • http://quickmeups.com/ Zachary (QuickMeUps.com)

    Well said and I completely agree. If I was a social media manager for a company, I would definitely dedicate time & resources to facebook. My personal experience as a blog owner will obviously be different. Time is a huge commodity and I’ve been very frustrated by algorithms and diminishing reach. Thanks for your time and comments. Will follow on Twitter. Hope to stay in touch. Take care.
    - Zac

  • PetTalkNews

    I do not know how to tell a fake FB fan, but I just looked at a recent “like” that popped up and on the person’s FB page they had not posted anything since May 2013. I consider this not a good like or a fake like. Maybe FB is trying to get them engaged again? Not sure, but I used the little gear beside the name and I removed them. I suppose it is a learning process. I have a little over 1000 likes and today’s article about removing fake likes made total sense to me. if I have likes but no engagement then they aren’t very good likes.

  • http://www.homespothq.com/ Tyler

    This is a massive Facebook problem. My Facebook interaction used to be so good and it has almost disappeared completely over the last year. Because the problem is so bad I’ve simply shifted all efforts to G+, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com/ Hugh Briss

    Sure, for someone with a Page with a small local fan base who can remember everyone who has ever engaged with their posts it would be easy to identify the fake accounts from Bangladesh but for Pages with a broader and/or larger audience base, especially an international one, it’s a bit trickier. And who knows, maybe that lurker from Bangladesh who never engages with the Page will come to the U.S. on vacation one day and spend a ton of money in their store. :)

    I subscribe to SME’s blog and read your guest post but I’m going to add your blog to my reader.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Hugh, All comments with links are moderated by a real person, so it can take time for those to appear in the thread ;)

    Love the discussion here about how to spend time wisely when growing your business.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Scott, I’d love to have the link and possibly mention it in an upcoming Saturday news post.

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    Oh common now Hugh, you know anyone with a large Facebook Page should already have some kind of 3rd party program set up in which the Admin can easily see who is engaging. But, either way it’s a risk you either weigh out to take, or not to take.

    By the way, thanks so much!

  • http://www.knowagency.com jane phelps

    OK – I cannot find step 1. I click on the friend icon and I see my own, not the page!

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    You have to be logged in as your Page. Use the drop down arrow to the right and “Use Facebook As” your Page.

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    Yes, I would definitely like to know more about this!

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    Are there 3rd party apps for monitoring engagement? If so, I’d like to know about them!

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    It’s my mission this year to be better about social media for my online author persona and this is really helpful. I may do this weeding out in between writing breaks. I left a reply on a comment below but I definitely want to hear about how to watch my FB fans engagement as they come in using 3rd party apps.

  • http://flip4new.de Julian Wagner

    After deleting them you should also prevent your fb page of Fake likes with limiting it for your relevant Country

  • Dawn Takacs

    I don’t understand this penalty thing, can you please explain? Is it against FB policy to buy likes? Please advice!

  • Sonic

    Not knowing better, we bought a huge chunk of fake fans and it ruined our engagement. If we use your method to get rid of all the fake fans, will our reach be better since our posts should only be seen by our real fans, who would engage with our content?

    Also, having trouble on the step where you talk about editing the HTML code. I have the FB ID that I want to ban, but once I try to edit the HTML portion I cannot see an area for the FB ID. The highlighted code that you instructed us to edit seems to be for something else completely… or I’m missing something. Would help if we were able to look at your screenshots more clearly.

    Thank you for the article. This is incredibly helpful.

  • Karin

    What 3rd party program would you recommend? I’d love to be able to see engagement levels but i have not found any tools for this. Facebook’s own stats include the “Like” of the page itself in the engagement, which is not helpful when what you really want to see is who engages AFTER they’ve liked the page. To me this seems the best indicator of who is fake?

  • http://linwrightdesign.com/ Linwright

    I agree, the screenshots are difficult to see without being able to enlarge them. I think the best option is for me to post those images on a different platform…perhaps Google+ or Facebook, in order for you to see them better.

  • http://www.spajonas.com/ S. J. Pajonas

    So today, I started removing Likes from Page. I started with the “See All” approach, figuring when I got to the 500 mark, I would go on and use this method. I started with 2026 Likes, and my first round I was able to eliminate 732 fakes or non-engagers. ??? And when I kept clicking See All, I went all the way back to the first person who ever Liked me. What does this mean? Does See All now work to show all Likes on a Page? I’m really not sure.

  • Pingback: Facebook marketing weekly review (September 5th 2014)

  • joshkimber

    Wow. This is a great article. One question for you, I am “Reporting” these users while logged into my personal account. Is that correct? Will Facebook know that I am reporting this user on behalf of the page I am an Admin on? Or am I not doing this in the right area?







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