Following a recent spike in Likes on Romney’s Facebook page — and a large number of Obama supporters discovering that their own Facebook pages were partly responsible — conspiracy theories proliferated blaming the phenomenon on a GOP virus or a hacking campaign, but the truth my be more mundane.
According to an investigation by Mother Jones, “it looks like this issue is largely a result of Facebook’s mobile interface kind of sucking.”
One security expert MJ interviewed said that the unintended Likes could well be the result of “clickjacking,” by placing a Romney ad underneath an unrelated ad that attracts a click, Facebook checked its database at MJ’s request and ruled out that tactic:
A Facebook spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the issue is unique to mobile because of the way the app works on small screens, and rejected the idea that the Romney camp was engaging in clickjacking. He added that the company is currently working to clean up its mobile interface.
The company suggested that some accidental Likes might also result from clicking on a “sponsored story” that the Romney campaign paid to insert in users’ news feed.
MJ also pointed to a Buzzfeed story on a strange spike in Likes for Obama’s Facebook page this week, which saw a one-day gain of over 1.1 million — a jump of 4%.
Many of the commenters on the newly minted “Hacked by Mitt Romney” Facebook page dismiss MJ’s dismissal of the conspiracy theories, but the Obama spike suggests that the issue — whether a feature or a bug — is at least bipartisan.