Facebook has grown a lot over the last  5 years, thanks largely to its innovative features and large number of currently active users. The social network currently has over 960 million active users, over half of which use the site every day.

The network, built and founded by Chairmen and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, makes its money largely through advertising revenue. Many companies use Facebook for advertising and marketing their products, largely because there is a real potential to get their products and services in front of a huge group of people, mores than potentially any other website advertising service, aside from perhaps Google.

Some say it works well. Others believe Facebook’s ads are totally ineffective. Up until now, these were the only solid options when it came to having an opinion on the service. Today however, we have a new opinion from a small group of web developers who have been testing the effectiveness of Facebook advertising through analytics tools: They’re a fraud.

Limited Run (known as Limited Pressing on Facebook due to the stupid inability to put in place a name change for pages), has found a series of irregularities that they are unable to explain from their advertising revenue. In a long post detailing why they are moving away from the world’s largest social network, Limited Run describes up to 80% of the registered clicks through Facebook ads that they are unable to verify:

Hey everyone, we’re going to be deleting our Facebook page in the next couple of weeks, but we wanted to explain why before we do. A couple months ago, when we were preparing to launch the new Limited Run, we started to experiment with Facebook ads. Unfortunately, while testing their ad system, we noticed some very strange things. Facebook was charging us for clicks, yet we could only verify about 20% of them actually showing up on our site. At first, we thought it was our analytics service. We tried signing up for a handful of other big name companies, and still, we couldn’t verify more than 15-20% of clicks. So we did what any good developers would do. We built our own analytic software. Here’s what we found: on about 80% of the clicks Facebook was charging us for, JavaScript wasn’t on. And if the person clicking the ad doesn’t have JavaScript, it’s very difficult for an analytics service to verify the click. What’s important here is that in all of our years of experience, only about 1-2% of people coming to us have JavaScript disabled, not 80% like these clicks coming from Facebook. So we did what any good developers would do. We built a page logger. Any time a page was loaded, we’d keep track of it. You know what we found? The 80% of clicks we were paying for were from bots. That’s correct. Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs.

The company explains that they have tried to contact Facebook about their issues, but have not yet heard a reply from the networking giant. They aren’t sure who the bots belong to, and are not able to verify that they are indeed coming from Facebook, Inc. It’s very strange.

Do we know who the bots belong too? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes. But let’s move on, because who the bots belong to isn’t provable.

The company has also decided to leave the network due to the inability to change their name (they changed the name of their company. Not only that, but Facebook representatives, in their words, are “holding [their] name hostage” in exchange for more ad spending from them. They say they are deleting their page as a result.

While we were testing Facebook ads, we were also trying to get Facebook to let us change our name, because we’re not Limited Pressing anymore. We contacted them on many occasions about this. Finally, we got a call from someone at Facebook. They said they would allow us to change our name. NICE! But only if we agreed to spend $2000 or more in advertising a month. That’s correct. Facebook was holding our name hostage. So we did what any good hardcore kids would do. We cursed that piece of shit out! Damn we were so pissed. We still are. This is why we need to delete this page and move away from Facebook. They’re scumbags and we just don’t have the patience for scumbags.

I’ve personally never heard of this type of treatment from Facebook to their actual customers, and I don’t have enough experience dealing with Facebook advertising to know whether they are really artificially pushing up their ad revenue, or if they are incompetent enough to allow third-parties to infiltrate their system to skew results. Perhaps Limited Run’s repeated tests are incorrect anyways, but then why hasn’t Facebook formally responded to them about their issue?

UPDATED: Although Facebook never responded to us (apparently we’re too small and insignificant for a response), TechCrunch apparently got an answer from Facebook regarding this case:

 “We’re currently investigating their claims. For their issue with the Page name change, there seems to be some sort of miscommunication. We do not charge Pages to have their names changed. Our team is reaching out about this now.”

We’ve reached out to Limited Run for further details regarding this case. Is 80% of ad revenue artificially generated without customer knowledge?

(via Limited Run on Facebook)

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