App maker: Harvard has three million fake ‘Likes’ on Facebook

Lauren Clark
Campus Correspondent

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  • Harvard has 3.3 million Facebook likes, which makes it the most liked institution of higher education in the world.
  • Lenny Teytelman, the founder of ZappyLab, says up to three million of those likes could be fake.
  • Harvard University has 3.3 million likes on Facebook, but an app maker says nearly three million of them may be fake.

    Lenny Teytelman, a former database developer, is the founder of ZappyLab, a company that makes applications for research scientists. Though his claim that Harvard may have a large amount of fake likes has not been verified, he has listed several facts to support his case.

    Harvard’s most engaged members are not from the Cambridge area—but in Dhaka, Bangladesh.   

    For example, as Business Insider reported, Harvard’s most engaged members are not from the Cambridge area—but in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city known for “click farms” where employees are paid to like, view, and tap on pages to artificially boost popularity.

    Teytelman compared the top-liked colleges with their fan’s geographic locations. Those which matched their locations closely like Princeton, UC Berkley, and Columbia, have fewer than 300,000 likes. But those who surpassed the 500,000 mark had likes from locations such as Dhaka or Ethiopia.

    The idea of “buying likes” isn’t a new one. Companies, celebrities and even the US State Department have been blamed for purchasing likes to buff up their social media presence. There’s even software that can be purchased online to skyrocket likes and views overnight.

    However, paid publicity certainly has its costs. If Harvard paid for these likes, it could have come with an estimated price of $150,000-$300,000, according to Teytelman.

    In comparison, tuition for Harvard is $43,939 for the 2014-2015 school year. In November 2013, it was reported Harvard’s deficit was up to $34 million.

    But even if some likes are fake, it does not prove Harvard paid for them. Fake accounts are often attracted to popular pages, in order to appear more legitimate.

    Harvard does, however, have an extensive history with Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, the site’s founder and CEO, attended the school. It became the first university in the world to hit one million likes in 2011 .

    The school has denied purchasing any likes on the social media platform.

    “Social media is among the many tools we use to connect to the Harvard community and with many others interested in teaching, learning and researching at Harvard. The University did not pay for any of the 3.3 million likes on its official Facebook page,” the university said in a statement to Boston.com.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @LaurenLouClark

    Lauren Clark

    Lauren Clark

    Campus Correspondent

    As a Campus Correspondent, Lauren exposes liberal bias and abuses at Arizona’s colleges and universities for Campus Reform. Lauren is a junior studying journalism at Arizona State University and is working towards a joint-four year bachelor's and master's degree with a minor in political science, and an emphasis on business reporting.

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