Facebook has revealed it is working to fix a bug that adds ‘likes’ to an item - even when the 'like' button hasn't been clicked at all.
A video was recently released onto YouTube that showed a way to add multiple ‘likes’ to a page. This could be achieved by a user emailing a link to a friend using Facebook's Private Message service. In this way up to 1,800 Likes could be generated in just an hour.
The video has since been removed, but concerns over the nature of the exploit - and that Facebook might be using it to mine data from users’ private correspondence - has prompted Facebook to speak out.
"Many websites that use Facebook's 'like' or 'recommend' buttons also carry a counter next to them," the site explained to the BBC.
"This counter reflects the number of times people have clicked those buttons and also the number of times people have shared that page's link on Facebook. When the count is increased via page shares, no user information is exchanged.”
However, Facebook does acknowledge that there is an issue to address here."We did recently find a bug with our social plug-ins where at times the count for the Share or Like goes up by two, and we are working to resolve the issue now," it said.
Apparently the 'like' figure in question doesn’t represent how many times the ‘like’ button has been clicked, but rather how many times the item had been shared. This has the side-effect of making items that have been shared to highlight negative content appear more popular than they really are.
These extra 'likes' are, says Facebook, completely anonymous, and won’t be added to a user’s timeline.
Despite the presence of this bug, Facebook is currently celebrating, having connected its one billionth user.