NEWS FROM THE LAB - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Should Facebook limit landing tabs? Posted by Sean @ 17:37 GMT

Roger Thompson of AVG, wrote an interesting post today about a scam involving a Facebook Page which asks folks to copy and paste JavaScript into the browser's address bar. Part of the JavaScript's function appeared to automate the "liking" of the page, causing it to spread. Sounds like an unlikely trick, right?

And so how many people fell for this? According to Thompson, the page had nearly 600 thousand likes.


This piqued my interest so I searched for additional pages called: 99% of people can't watch this video more than 25 seconds.

There are currently several pages with over 200 thousand cumulative likes:

99% of people can't watch this video more than 25 seconds

Only one of the pages that I found uses JavaScript and the rest simply display a TinyURL link once the page is liked:

99% of people can't watch this video more than 25 seconds

The links lead to annoying marketing surveys and other such CPA ilk. Similar pages often lead to scams or malicious websites.

Unfortunately, it's a rather simple task to create a page on Facebook and the bigger problem is that of "landing tabs." What's a landing tab? It's the first tab that's shown to someone that doesn't already like the page, in this case, the "Video Here!" tab.

Back in May, All Facebook reported that landing tabs were going to be restricted to "authenticated pages" or to pages with more than 10,000 fans (which are now likes). One day later and Facebook backpedaled and didn't implement the limitations.

Facebook's statement: "We've removed the recently-added authentication requirement for setting custom landing tabs on Pages. The requirement was instituted as part of a Pages quality initiative, however we are now re-investigating the situation. We will not make any further changes without first giving notice and lead time."

Why did Facebook back off? Because small business complained. The 10,000 fan requirement was seen as too difficult to achieve. The major use for landing tabs is to build the page's base, so perhaps it was too much to ask.

But at this point, having nothing in place opens up a deluge of scams and spam. Some kind of compromise must be possible.

Our own Facebook page occasionally uses a landing tab, such as our during Anti-Theft Phonehunt campaign, but we don't rely on the feature. If we had to jump through a couple of extra hoops to enable the feature, then so be it. The folks that are currently falling for these scams would be better off and we'd better happier for that.

Let's hope that Facebook doesn't take too much longer with its re-investigation.

TinyURL quickly disabled the six links that I abused. Cheers to Gilby!

Signing off,