Is Facebook Cheating?
I don't know what other conclusion you can draw after reading about the company's clickthru advertising practices as discovered by publisher Raaj Kapur Brar:
The results were disastrous, Brar says.
Facebook’s analytics said the campaign sent him five times the number of clicks he was seeing arrive on his sites, which Brar was monitoring with Bitly, Google Analytics, and his own web site’s WordPress dashboard. There was a reasonable discrepancy between the Bitly and Google numbers, Brar says, but not the five-fold margin between Google’s and Facebook’s click counts.
At one point, data from Facebook indicated his ads had delivered 606,000 clicks, but the site itself registered only 160,000 incoming clicks from Facebook, according to data supplied by Brar. (160,000 clicks is a not insignificant return. After all, these are not clicks on a mere Facebook page, these are users who clicked through to an off-Facebook site.)
“I don’t know what to say, right? This is a huge loss. This ran for four days, then we just stopped the campaign,” Brar says.
Then, things got worse. Even though Fetopolis wasn’t advertising, the likes and new followers kept on piling up. Normally, an advertiser would be pleased at such a result, but every time Brar checked a sample of the new fans he found people with dubious names; a picture of a flower as a profile shot; and fewer than 10 friends — classic signs of a fake profile.
I suppose that's one way to generate $19 billion to spend on a messaging app.
Facebook's terms and conditions forbid any third-party audits of clickthrus, contrary to industry standards.