Friday, September 8, 2017

"A thriving ecosystem of websites that allow users to automatically generate millions of fake 'likes' and comments on Facebook has been documented by researchers at the University of Iowa [Working with a computer scientist at Facebook and one in Lahore, Pakistan]. The researchers found that this activity has now been turbocharged because scam artists found a loophole to exploit code Facebook uses to allow third-party applications such as iMovie and Spotify to access a user’s Facebook account, automating a process that formerly was manual and involved many fewer likes. [...]

When you become part of this network, you can say ‘Give me likes on this post and as soon as you request it, you get thousands of likes on a specific post,' said Zubair Shafiq*, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa in Iowa City who documented the automated networks. [...] In the Facebook hacking scam detected by the Iowa researcher, users are knowingly entering into a agreement to falsely obtain 'likes.' But they may not realize what they're giving up. 

'Users think it’s relatively benign, but actually they’re handing over full control of their Facebook account,' said Shafiq."

* Work led by Shehroze Farooqi‏ (, third year PhD student advised by Shafiq. Details in the team's upcoming IMC2017 paper.

Click here for unabridged 9/7/17 USA TODAY article, and here for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' news mention.

Additional news coverage

Facebook deleted 5.8M accounts just before the 2016 election (CBS News - 10/31/17)

UI researchers root out fake 'likes' (The Daily Iowan - 10/16/17)

The Economy of Fake Facebook Likes (EdgyLabs - 9/13/17)

Study Finds ‘Collusion Network’ of Fake Likes on Facebook (Fortune - 9/9/17)

Facebook flaw allows 'collusion network' to generate 100million fake comments and likes, researchers find (Daily Mail - 9/9/17)

Fake likes: Researchers uncover Facebook 'collusion networks' (C|NET - 9/8/17)

"Collusion network" Facebook flaw leads to millions of fake "likes" (CBS News - 9/8/17)


Facebook breaks up fake account ring targeting publisher pages (4/14/17)

Shafiq receives funding from NSF and Facebook (8/16/16)