Preserve Marriage Washington, the group opposing approval of Referendum 74 and Washington’s freedom to marry law, has for the first time responded to reports of their apparent purchase of fake Facebook “likes”, saying:
RE: “PMW Facebook Scam”
PMW maintains its own Facebook page. We have told our vendors explicitly, ‘Do not buy likes.’ We are investigating these claims.
Yeah, sure they’ll investigate these claims. I’m holding my breath.
PMW had plenty of prior notice that this was happening, from month-old blog posts to comments on their own Facebook page. Convenient that PMW only pretends to care when the campaign is almost over. So much for honest online community engagement.
I wonder: if PMW maintains its own Facebook page, as they claim, then why do they need to confer with vendors?
“Virtual communities and causes that appear on social media platforms such as Facebook demand the same commitment to authenticity as place-based communities,” said Anita Verna Crofts, associate director of University of Washington’s Master of Communication in Digital Media program. “The practice of buying Facebook likes erodes trust with the public and in the case of advocacy-oriented initiatives, undermines the organization’s message.”
“Buying social media audiences is not difficult,” said Beth Becker, the owner and strategist for Progressive PST, which consults with clients on online engagement. “The problem is it’s fake, it’s inauthentic. People engage in social media to engage with people they know, people they’d like to know and organizations they support. At the end of the day, the number of likes a page has on Facebook is a pretty empty number. I call it the numbers fallacy. It has to be social, it has to be authentic and if an organization is not doing it, and creating a false environment, it’s simply not real.”