Is Facebook Advertising A Scam?

By | September 6, 2012

The rise of Social Media has slowly made small, medium and large businesses to adapt and unlock the power of marketing that lies within. Facebook and Twitter icons have become an essential part of any advertising campaigns whether they be on TV or online. Different social media channels have different strategies that one can make use of to implement their own marketing tactics. But do these Social Media advertising campaigns really work? Are they for real? Or are they scams? Is Facebook advertising a scam?

Let’s scratch the surface and find out. Past couple of months, I have been reading a lot of articles and theories about how one can make use of Facebook Ads, target a certain audience, set a budget and get more traffic and users to know your brand, company, products or expertise. I also tried doing the same. Apart from being a social media enthusiast am also a passionate self-learnt photographer. I happen to love going around shooting a lot of photographs, and have my own personal photography page on Facebook.

Now, as a social media lover, and a creative guy, I also wanted to promote my photography page on Facebook, not only to reach out my friends but to the so-called millions of users and have them check out my work and hopefully convert that to a Facebook page like to increase my number of fans. I started off with my friend list and sent them an invite to visit my page and like my page if they like my work. The page likes slowly started increasing and through word of mouth (which I still find the best way of advertising since it has been verified by at-least one user) it reached close to 300-400 page likes.

Now one fine day, Facebook sends me $50 credit for advertising. Which meant, I can use these free money to setup my ad, and have it making rounds on Facebook’s rich database of users. Sounds awesome? It sounded the same to me too. I setup my ad, targeting a very wide audience from all around the world. A few days later, I start seeing an exponential increase in page likes for my photography page. As a natural reaction I felt happy, thinking that my work is being appreciated and liked by many people from across different countries.

A week later, my page had grown from 400 to 1000 likes. I felt something fishy and I started keeping track of all the new users who although were not on my friend list but were still hitting the like button for my page. Eventually I started realizing that some of these user profiles were complete scams, fake users wherein they had no friends except that they had about 100-200 different pages which they had liked.

Upon further investigation, I also realized that a major chunk of the users who were liking my page belong to the same country. If I do not choose that country, the page likes would not increase for a day or two, and then after couple of days, it would again start increasing from a different country. I went down a little more into this, and found out that if you target a very small audience by selecting a few parameters, your page would hardly get any views or likes.

While all this was happening, my page likes were increasing tremendously, and since I had set my budget to no more than $1 a day, it used up that amount every day and got scam and fake users to like my page. Ultimately I ran out of the $50 credit one day, and I disabled the advertisement. At that point of time my page had close to 3500 page likes albeit majority of them fake users, scam users with no friends on their profile, with profile pictures of celebrities and what not.

The funny part came after I disabled my advertisement. Out of a sudden my page likes started decreasing on its own, which meant users had started “disliking” my page. That nearly tipped me off and I again enabled my advertisement to see if it was a coincidence. And it went through the same cycle as above, got me to close to 3700 page likes, and once I disabled, the count went down.

Since this was a personal first hands-on experience with Facebook advertisement I somehow felt the urge to pen it down and see what the experts out there think about this. So what do you feel? Is Facebook ads a scam? Is it really helping businesses out there to build a community of “true” “legit” followers? I would like to hear your views and experiences in the comments section below.

  • Dark

    It is a scum..I am 100% sure it is, I tried to buy likes on facebook and of course i see my page likes growing. But at the same time I installed Google analytics to track the visitors on my site, but the google analytics was not coincide with the country that my page has the most likes. and i also check the profiles of these likes and they don’t have friends. it is a scum

  • Derek

    I just recently made an ad for my page tied to my youtube channel, my channel is about video games, and after my ad started I got 19 likes in one day, I felt this was weird considering my videos on youtube had not increased in view, and no one likes a page unless they view the content, I could only view two of the new 19 peoples profiles as well, and their profiles seemed empty and shady and like they had been made by someone working for facebook to make it seem like they would be someone to like my page, it was a total waste of money, my page now has 28 likes from today but my youtube channel didn’t benefit in any way at all.

  • E-MUTE

    Right. I’ve been having my doubts about Facebook advertising. I am a musician. At some point I started advertising for Facebook likes. I started getting lots of likes as well but a big portion of the likes where coming from countries that are not famous for having a great alternative rock audience; And when I started checking the profiles the ”fans” did not seem to be very alternative rock… Anyways. Recently I did an experiment. I decided to run a few Facebook ads again to give it another go. This time I advertised a little promo video for my band, Our Spotify URL and our Soundcloud URL. Soundcloud have their own analytics. This is where things become very interesting. My Soundcloud analytics show 42 visits from Facebook, where Facebook analytics show 332 clicks to the website…. Check the screenshots. 3rd list from Soundcloud’s analytics, Facebook’s visits are on no. 5 How does that work then?!

    • Mark

      I now believe this is a scam. I am spending $10 per day and getting likes from people that seem to like every ad they see yet are unemployed, retired, or in positions they would have no reason to like my business. Many are of foreign nationalities and do not have english anywhere on their page. Most have stuff on their pages I do not want associated with my business. It is almost like they are getting paid by someone to like every ad. I am a B2B business and will now look to advertise more in Linkedin to build market awareness and let facebook be a palce to keep customers up to date on our latest news but will not be spending my limited ad money there.

      • E-MUTE

        Yeah I know exactly what you mean Mark. I had the same experience.

    • Glen Cooper

      Same here for Etsy. I used a small £1 ad, to track clicks. FB showed 4 clicks… Etsy? 1.

      • E-MUTE

        Yeah. Horrible ha?

        • Glen Cooper

          How on earth are they allowed to get away with this?…

          • deema

            I just ended a 2000$, month long initial fb ad campaign. It absolutely is a scam. I actually have relatively “good” results compared to many other people’s stories.

            But the “little things”, that I as an extremely observant and analytical person kept noticing, things that most people would not bat an eye to, all seemed to only have one, very, very simple common denominator. They all had directions whose paths all merged at one point, “buy more ads”

            They ALL either were intended to feed me ad “insights” and notifications, like a drug, COMPLETELY misleading me, initially, until I got wise to their games.

            For example, getting countless notifications like “john doe” and “50” other people recently liked your page… Clicking marked as read, you would expect that the next notification, containing “jerry berry” and 55 other people recently liked your page, would mean that those are 55 NEW ones, OTHER than the 50 that, ten minutes ago I had already acknowledged…

            The disgraceful below 10% of fans getting notified of page posts, “for the benefit of the end user” so they are not overwhelmed, bla bla.. Really? Then why not allow them, the end user, to determine that for themselves. They are perfectly capable of clicking “less” or stop, for any page… But when you simply, oh so simply, ask yourself, “HOW could facebook possibly benefit by giving the end user less of this content that they “want”… Duh, right? “You want to reach your fans, now, you gotta pay up, buddy… We gave you the goods initially, now it is time you start breaking bank”.. Facebook is a f’n CORNER DOPE DEALER, PERIOD….

            I am so pist, not that I wasted 2k, not that big a deal. I am so angered because they are raking in BILLIONS of dollars, through investment and advertising, BASED SOLELY ON HOW THEY ARE CHEATING, BOTH, THE END USER AND THE ADVERTISERS…… BY SCAMMING, LITERALLY, OVER A BILLION PEOPLE…

            If it walks like a duck, it still might be a cow.. If it walks and talks like a duck, could still be a goose… If it walks, talks, shats, and pruduces eggs that hatch ducks, it is probably a fn duck… When you have anything that has so many variables that all lead to one thing, then that one thing is the basis for all of those variables acting as they do… no longer are the unrelated and coincidence, potentially… THAT is the key to seeing them for what they are and are doing… Put ALL the info together then see things as a whole.. Only way to get a clear picture.

            People are too afraid to go up against them cause it is only the relatively small businesses that are getting ripped off, as the larger ones do not depend on the same type of advertising to get themselves “known”/in the public eye…

            Bottom line is this… if I can show (and I can), using nothing but actual data, stats, real verified information, that their ad platform’s guidelines/rules/results/etc all have ALL the elements of trying to get more money from the advertiser AND restricting that advertiser’s ability to reach the customers by tactics that inhibit both the business and its fans, in ways that provide no benefit to either party but instead manipulate the access by strangling every possible route, then what is that “called”? Unethical, at best.. Illegal, I think, is more accurate, however. As it is also COMPLETELY misleading its investors… The bottom will have to drop, eventually, as people who try the ad campaigns come out with essentially identical stories and drama…

            I am appalled by what I have found. This is just the tip… It may be that facebook is, right now, the most unethical website, on the net, due to the number of people it has influence over and how it has decided to use that influence to manipulate the 1 billion users by cheating all…..

            • deema

              Little fn bs tactics like in the ad manager page, where when scrolling it actually turns into two pages with separate scroll bars, so that when you think you are scrolling down the “big page”, you are actually scrolling down the ad list, so that you are UNABLE TO SEE THE ADS THAT ARE STILL AT THE TOP, IF YOU SCROLL JUST ONE ‘LEVEL” DOWN… it is so blatant, it makes ZERO sense to have that second scroll bar/window.. the ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY thing that results from it is the accidental scrolling past “open ads”, up at the top….

  • Natalie Remington

    Let’s start a class action suit. NOW. I am totally on board

    • thewisdompearls

      I am not sure if Facebook updated their model. Need to try it out to see how it goes.

    • deema

      yes, seriously… I will not make the effort to do so, but I can 100% show without any doubt, no doubt at all, that they are acting disgracefully unethical

  • Alan Fox

    Total bullshit. Facebook Ads are a total scam. Amazing how a company the size of FB gets away with this. They have to show their investors income so they rip us off. We are small businesses just trying to make a living and the nerve of FB to take advantage of us.

    Of course they will deny it. They have bullshit algorithms with bullshit likes.. I’m getting likes from some where down South and I am in Boston. I am a local company only broadcasting within my area. FB says the ads will only be within my area. WTF. I am pissed and will pursue with my state Attorney General. They should not get away with this ripoff scam. They are as bad as any hacker stealing credit cards. If you would like to enjoin me I am

    I recommend that you save by copying the pages that list these phony likes and a few of their FB pages. I’m sure once FB finds out people are going to start inquiring they will somehow delete the pages and the likes.

    • thewisdompearls

      As much as I think it’s frustrating, we also might want to understand the logic of the algorithm behind such cases. I am not sure if it was just me or there are plenty of others who faced this issue.

  • Bethany

    You can also set your limit to $5/ day which I did and only wanted to do for a few days, but the problem is, once you meet the threshold, they automatically put you up to the next threshold, mine started at $25/month, then I got an e-mail (surprise) that they had just so happen to change their policy and all this stuff about the price went up and once you meet the 25 it automatically goes to 50 then 100 and so on. It is awful. I now have to fill out information with my bank, they refunded the money temporarily, but Facebook has this all figured out, there is no way to contact them, no way to stop payment, and no way to change payment unless you give them another way to take money from you. And there’s really nothing in writing stating the policy, so Im not even sure how this will all play out.

    • thewisdompearls

      I agree that Facebook should be very crisp and crystal in explaining the advertising model. It would help to gain some insight into why and how this set of events occur.

      • deema



  • Bethany

    Complete Scam. I reported them as fraud to my bank. They re-started an advertisement I stopped and took out all my money. Then they had the nerve to make a pop-up this evening on my account telling me they received the claim my bank made and next time to contact them directly, except, there is NO WAY to contact them directly, and I had already followed the steps on their helpdesk to put in a claim with NO RESPONSE. It is a complete scam. there is also No way to delete your payment information unless you provide them with a new one. Simply disgusting

  • Tony

    Yup, it’s a scam. I target a certain audience and my likes come back from totally unrelated audience. All of the likes are from Facebook fake profile and bots. It’s a total waste using facebook ads

    • thewisdompearls

      Not sure if this has now been addressed by Facebook? I am sure they might be aware of this situation. Will have to try it again to see how it goes.

  • rocken

    interesting!!! out of interest you mentioned that the likes seemed to be coming from a particular country. which country was this? i have also just started fb ads and within 2 days i feel that what you have outlined is very similar to what i have experienced within the 2 days.

    • thewisdompearls

      I have lost track of them now. I will have to go back and restart the ad campaign and see if this issue still lingers.

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  • Consumr.Info

    Thanks for the article. We’re starting up as well and I looked into Facebook ads a bit but didn’t feel the need to spend the money. I’m glad I didn’t. I think in the beginning, the more followers and likes you get, the better. But you do eventually want to weed out the scams and fake users. I don’t think Facebook ads is something I would at all be interested in anymore. It seems like a plot just to get your money. I think if the likes stayed on your page it wouldn’t be too much of a loss (although I wouldn’t want 3500 fake likes, but some are acceptable), but since you lose all of the likes once you stop spending money… I don’t know, it’s not something that sounds reasonable. You’re essentially just paying a ton of money to advertise to fake users. I don’t feel like it gets you any real exposure at all, and the cost definitely adds up.

    Thanks again for the info. I’m definitely going to retweet it!

    • thewisdompearls

      Thanks for sharing. I hope there are others who would be enlightened.