Facebook confirmed on Thursday that it scans private messages for links and records them as likes, according to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets. The revelation undermines not only Facebook’s commitment to remove phony links but the company’s very credibility.
Facebook has not kept secret its scanning of private messages for references to criminal activity. What is new is that it also looks for links and records those as likes. This practice gives the appearance that more people are liking more things on the social network.
Kashmir Hill of Forbes asked, “Do over 6,000 people really ‘Like’ the Placenta Teddy Bear, or is that just reflective of the number of times a link to that page has been sent around in horror?”
Facebook clarified the discovery, noting that the scanned links were counted as engagement, not endorsement. It also said there was a bug that had scanned links being counted as double, but it conceded that this was one of the ways it boosted the number of shares.
» via ReadWriteWeb