The number of “likes” usually displayed alongside the Facebook like button is really an aggregate of shares, likes and comments. This morning, I took an arbitrary mix of Facebook related stories and found that the actual number of likes only accounted for a 39% of the number displayed. This is by no means scientific, but I think it’s noteworthy.
Why does this matter? Because news sites are publishing factual inaccuracies in articles that say things like “100 people recommend this” when in fact only 39 people did.
Here are the stories that I looked at this morning:
- CNN: Facebook event: Let’s dump trash at Boehner’s pad
Claim: 2,071 recommends. Actual: 650 recommends (plus 769 shares and 653 comments)
- GigaOm: Facebook Open Sources Its Servers and Data Centers
Claim: 593 likes. Actual: 291 (plus 232 shares and 70 comments)
- TechCrunch: Facebook’s “Open Compute Project”: Their Server/Datacenter Expertise Now Open To All
Claim: 580 likes. Actual: 386 likes (plus 150 share and 44 comments)
- Mashable: Homeland Security to Issue Terror Warnings via Facebook & Twitter
Claim: 578 likes. Actual: 120 likes (plus 245 shares and 213 comments)
- Politico: Joe Biden’s daughter trashes birther Donald Trump
Claim: 143 like. Actual: 70 likes (plus 47 share and 26 comments)
- Engadget: LikeLight lights up your likes with Legos, Arduino (video)
Claim: 143 likes. Actual: 70 likes (plus 54 shares and 19 comments)
- Today: New tool helps clean up your Facebook reputation
Claim: 106 recommends. Actual: 40 recommends (plus 50 shares and 16 comments)
- WSJ Digits: Facebook Won’t Become E-Commerce Force, Analyst Says
Claim: 101 likes. Actual: 34 likes (plus 51 shares and 16 comments)
- TIME: Obama Opens 2012 Campaign on Facebook
Claim: 96 likes. Actual: 34 likes (plus 48 shares and 14 comments)
- USA Today: Facebook plea persuades man to donate a kidney
Claim: 94 recommends. Actual: 51 recommends (plus 28 shares and 15 comments)
- All things D: Facebook’s Rise Is a Big Deal for Media Sites. For the Rest of the Web, Not So Much.
Claim: 55 likes. Actual: 22 likes (plus 24 shares and 9 comments)
- Slate: No More Privacy Paranoia
Claim: 62 likes. Actual: 22 likes (plus 32 shares and 8 comments)
All told, the like buttons claimed that those pages were liked or recommended 4,622 times. In fact, they were liked or recommended only 1,790 times.
In case you didn’t click on the first link in this post, I got the real “like” numbers by using my RealShare tool.
Feel free to take a look at the data in my malformed Google Doc.