Combating fraud in online social networks: detecting stealthy Facebook like farms

Muhammad Ikram, Lucky Onwuzurike, Shehroze Farooqi, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Arik Friedman, Guillaume Jourjon, Mohammad Ali Kaafar, M. Zubair Shafiq

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As businesses increasingly rely on social networking sites to engage with their customers, it is crucial to understand and counter reputation manipulation activities, including fraudulently boosting the number of Facebook page likes using like farms. To this end, several fraud detection algorithms have been proposed and some deployed by Facebook that use graph co-clustering to distinguish between genuine likes and those generated by farm-controlled profiles. However, as we show in this paper, these tools do not work well with stealthy farms whose users spread likes over longer timespans and like popular pages, aiming to mimic regular users. We present an empirical analysis of the graph-based detection tools used by Facebook and highlight their shortcomings against more sophisticated farms. Next, we focus on characterizing content generated by social networks accounts on their timelines, as an indicator of genuine versus fake social activity. We analyze a wide range of features extracted from timeline posts, which we group into two main classes: lexical and non-lexical. We postulate and verify that like farm accounts tend to often re-share content, use fewer words and poorer vocabulary, and more often generate duplicate comments and likes compared to normal users. We extract relevant lexical and non-lexical features and and use them to build a classifier to detect like farms accounts, achieving significantly higher accuracy, namely, at least 99% precision and 93% recall.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1506.00506
Number of pages13
JournalarXiv e-prints
Publication statusSubmitted - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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