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.
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.
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.
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).
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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.
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.
A box will pop up with programming language and one line will be highlighted.
Right-click the highlighted line and select Edit as HTML.
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.
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.
If you’re looking to clean up your Facebook page without completely starting over, this is the workaround that can help you out.
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.