What we know about Facebook posts is that more likes on a post mean it’s also more likely to be seen by more users.
But a study by the researchers at the University of Iowa and the Lahore University of Management discovered that around 1 million fake and real Facebook accounts have gamed the system by entering a “collusion network” that has generated at least 100 million likes. The study was conducted during 2016 presidential election, the outcomes of which some claim were influenced by fake news on Facebook.
As per the researchers, accounts can sign up for “reputation manipulation services,” and enter these networks. Through signing up, members allow the services to like and comment on the posts of other members, letting the services to utilize the full capability of its network to promote specific posts and accounts.
“Such collusion networks of significant size enable members to receive a large number of likes from other members, making them appear much more popular than they actually are,” the researchers wrote.
The social giant has been the talk of the town since 2016 elections, with some saying that fake news shared on the social media site had influenced the elections. Earlier this week, Facebook also stated that an influence operation likely based out of Russia had spent $100,000 since May 2015 on ads that supported socially and politically polarizing views on the site.
The researchers said they were not able to conclude if these collusion networks were used to have any impact on the 2016 presidential elections, or if Russia was in any way involved.
“We do want to examine the Russia question,” Zubair Shafiq, a co-author, told CBS News.
The social giant was made aware of the findings in May 2016, with Facebook coming up with ways to handle the collusion networks.