A click farm is a form of click fraud, where a large group of low-paid workers are hired to click on paid advertising links for the click fraudster (click farm master or click farmer). The workers click the links, surf the target website for a period of time, and possibly sign up for newsletters prior to clicking another link. For many of these workers, clicking on enough ads per day may increase their revenue substantially and may also be an alternative to other types of work. It is extremely difficult for an automated filter to detect this simulated traffic as fake because the visitor behavior appears exactly the same as that of an actual legitimate visitor.
Fake likes generating from click farms are essentially different from those arising from bots where computer programs are written by software experts. To deal with such issues, companies such as Facebook are trying to create algorithms that seek to wipe out accounts with unusual activity (e.g. liking too many pages in a short period of time).
Facebook issued a statement stating: “A like that doesn’t come from someone truly interested in connecting with the brand benefits no one. If you run a Facebook page and someone offers you a boost in your fan count in return for money, our advice is to walk away – not least because it is against our rules and there is a good chance those likes will be deleted by our automatic systems. We investigate and monitor “like-vendors” and if we find that they are selling fake likes, or generating conversations from fake profiles, we will quickly block them from our platform.” Andrea Faville reported that Alphabet Inc. companies, Google and YouTube, “take action against bad actors that seek to game our systems.” LinkedIn spokesman Doug Madey said buying connections “dilutes the member experience violates their user agreement and can also prompt account closures.” Chief executive and founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom reports “We’ve been deactivating spammy accounts from Instagram on an ongoing basis to improve your experience.”
Facebook’s purging of fake likes and accounts occurred from August to September 2012. According to Facebook’s 2014 financial report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, an estimated 83 million false accounts were deleted, accounting for approximately 6.4% of the 1.3 billion total accounts on Facebook. Likester reported pages affected include Lady Gaga, who lost 65,505 fans and Facebook, who lost 124,919 fake likes. Technology giant Dell lost 107,889 likes (2.87% of its total likes) in 24 hours.Billions of YouTube video fake views were deleted after being exposed by auditors. In December 2014, Instagram carried out a purge deemed the “Instagram Rapture” wherein many accounts were affected—including Instagram’s own account, which lost 18,880,211 followers.