Facebook Is Reading Your Messages and Liking Things For You

By Sam Biddle on at

You might think clicking "Like" is the only way to stamp that public FB affirmation on something—you're wrong. Facebook is checking your private messages and automatically liking things you talk about. Without asking you.

The scanning, which is either an oversight on Facebook's part of a deliberate effort—we're waiting to hear back from FB—increases the Like count for a given page just by you talking about it. Auto-scanning is nothing new: Gmail has done it since day one to serve us ads. But there are serious potential personal consequences here—what if I'm talking about something disgusting, loathsome, and offensive with a friend? Do I want Facebook to automatically chalk that up as a Like? No. And I doubt you do either.

The auto-liking could also be a big deal for those who want to artificially inflate their popularity online—say, people with something to sell. "Yeap, it won't drive any traffic to your website. But if your [sic] visiting an online store and you see a lot of likes under the product then this might cloud your judgement," notes one commenter on Hacker News, where the mechanism was first reported.

Facebook Is Reading Your Messages and Liking Things For You

To test the auto-scanning, message this link to a friend—it should increase the like count by two. I was able to independently verify the same effect by messaging a link to singer The-Dream's official page to a friend. It increased his Likes without me ever clicking the button. This isn't how it's supposed to work, Facebook. [Hacker News via Forbes]