Facebook is adding ‘likes’ to pages on behalf of its users when a URL is shared via private message, research suggests, according to Digital Spy.
A U.S. security expert discovered that sending a web address to a friend automatically adds two likes to that page, suggesting that the social network is scanning private messages.
Adding a comment to a story within Facebook also adds to the tally, regardless of whether the written remark is positive or negative.
Facebook has responded to the report’s findings and issued a statement denying that privacy information has been exposed.
“Absolutely no private information has been exposed,” they told TechRadar in a statement. “Each time a person Shares a URL to Facebook, including through messages, the number of Shares displayed on the social plugin for that website increases.
“Our systems parse the URL being shared in order to render the appropriate preview, and to also ensure that the message is not spam.
“These counts do not affect the privacy settings of content, and URLs shared through private messages are not attributed publicly with user profiles.”
Although Facebook also stressed that the addition likes are anonymous and will not appear on users’ timelines, critics have pointed out that people who share pages to highlight negative content are making the site appear more popular.
The revelation follows Facebook’s announcement that it now reached 1 billion users worldwide.