The moral of fake Facebook friends

Supposedly, last month over a billion people used Facebook. However, I’ve determined by watching our Facebook friends that a couple of million of those billion users are all some guy named Gary that lives in Cincinnati.

For example, just as a tease, a once-single friend of ours invented a boyfriend and gave him a Facebook profile. He was given a very manly name of “Tyler Brunson.” She’s since married someone who looks amazingly like poor Tyler. But Tyler is still there.  He has six friends and he doesn’t update his status very often. I guess he took the breakup hard.

But that wasn’t nearly as bad as a friend of my brother-in-law. A few years ago there was a game called “Farmville,” where people who worked in dreary offices could own an imaginary farm, which is just like a real farm, only without the USDA or debt financing. Or produce. Or profit. To make the game a social experience, you had to trade items with your Facebook friends to get ahead.

Well, this friend solved that problem easily enough. He just created a bunch of fake friends, all of them with superhero names, that all started farms and were very generous with what they were producing.

And then I have a cousin who wanted to post more risque stuff, but just to his friends, not to his family members (it’s always embarrassing to post naughty jokes where your aunts can see them). So he created two accounts, one of which was for the naughty stuff, and the other one he didn’t use. It was just there to make his aunts happy.

And then there’s the pets. Some people feel the virtual world is just a little lonely without Fido. So a good percentage of people using Facebook aren’t people, they’re animals, with human friends that have a lot of time on their hands.

I think there are Facebook police who try and find the unreal people and erase them, but with over a billion users, it makes finding a needle in a haystack look relatively easy. Facebook itself figures that just under 10 percent of its users are fakes.

We’ve personally avoided becoming friends with unreal people. We aren’t necessarily opposed to imaginary people, but try to avoid putting them on the internet where everyone can see.

So, advertisers, before you decide to advertise on Facebook instead of the newspaper, remember there might not be one billion people looking at your ad in the newspaper, but at least the the people reading the newspaper are real.

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