Facebook has been found to be giving away ‘Likes’ for actions that don’t involve a person actively liking content on a webpage at all.
A U.S. security researcher has revealed that the social media giant – which has recently passed its one billion user milestone - is generating new Likes every time a website URL is sent to a friend using Facebook’s private messaging function.
According to a YouTube video, seen by huffingtonpost.co.uk, up to 1,800 Likes an hour can be generated using this trick.
While Facebook has acknowledged that the issue is indeed a bug, and being addressed, the fear is that some will try and take advantage of the flaw to artificially inflate a piece of web content’s presence around the network.
The Like counter can also jump up on a webpage through other seemingly innocuous activities, such as commenting on a story within Facebook or sharing a piece content on Facebook.
Responding to the issue in a statement, Facebook told bbc.co.uk: “We did recently find a bug with our social plug-ins where at times the count for the Share or Like goes up by two, and we are working on fix to solve the issue now.”
The revelation has caused several publications to question whether Facebook is data mining the content of personal conversations held on its network. It also also questioned the value of social media content when Likes can be generated so easily.
“If [you're] visiting an online store and you see a lot of likes under the product then this might cloud your judgement,” one commenter mused in a Hacker News report on the matter.