Facebook users may hand-pick brand pages to Like on the site, but a series of new reports suggest that the social network has been auto-Liking some additional pages based on links sent to friends.
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However, Facebook told Mashable it is not auto-Liking pages for its users and it is not invading anyone's privacy.
It's been widely reported on Thursday that Facebook is scanning messages sent to others with attached links to better gauge their interests and add to a brand's Link count. Although clicking on a link will add to the Like number on a brand page, it's used only on the back-end for publishers to see the analytics of articles and shared URLs, the company said.
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This is how the Share and Like count for web pages has always worked.
"Absolutely no private information has been exposed," a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. "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."
Email services such as Gmail have long taken this approach to target its users with ads or fight against viruses based on content written.
"We did recently find a bug with our social plugins where at times the count for the Share or Like goes up by two, and we are working on fix to solve the issue now," the spokesperson added. "To be clear, this only affects social plugins off of Facebook and is not related to Facebook Page likes. This bug does not impact the user experience with messages or what appears on their timelines."
Facebook's developer page related to the Like button states that the number of Likes is derived by the number of likes in the URL and the number of shares. This includes copying and pasting a link back to Facebook. It also includes the number of inbox messages containing the URL as an attachment.
This story originally published on Mashable here.