Facebook Like and Google +1 Hack?

Recently I wrote a post debunking some claims that Google+ is very active. In researching this, I came came across a rather worrying “quirk” with Google+ and Facebook: You can get multiple +1’s and likes from 1 Google+ or Facebook account on one piece of content.

By revealing my findings I feel like I’m making the internet a bad place. Well, I would if it weren’t for the fact that there are already so many worse people out there creating automatic like engines, one simply needs to Google “Facebook likes hack” to see a long list of people cheating the system.

Here’s how I tested this on Google Plus:

I found a piece of content on local tech news site Memeburn from a couple of days ago which had one lonely +1. Clearly it wasn’t getting a lot of attention on social media so it was a safe bet to use this piece for my test as it was unlikely to get more interest during the short 5 minutes it took to run my test. (nothing wrong with the contents of the article by the way, they always have insightful content)

I +1’d the piece of content in the share widget on the webpage in question, the widget then showed “+2”. Nothing fishy here.


I copied the page URL and went and shared it in Google+ from my personal account and reloaded the Memeburn webpage, the widget then showed “+3”.


I +1’d my own share in Google+ and hit reload again, the widget then showed “+4”.


I commented on my own share of the Memeburn post on G+ and hit reload again, the widget then showed “+5”.


I asked a colleague to share my share of the Memeburn post in G+ and I hit reload again, the widget then showed “+6”. Okay, this one is a legit new +1.


I +1’d my colleague’s share of my share and hit reload again, the widget then showed “+7”.


All in all that’s 5 +1’s Google racked up from one user for one piece of content. I feel dirty…

Importantly here, this is not just the case with Google Plus, I also tested this with Facebook likes and shares with the same results. Also important here is that this isn’t just the widget Memeburn is using, try this on pretty much any site using an official Facebook or G+ like or +1 widget and you should get the same result.

So, if you have a blog post which isn’t getting much engagement and you want it to feel like there’s a frat party going down instead of it feeling like the annual agoraphobics anonymous camping trip, this is a quick way to garner a few likes fast.

You’ll also need to have a diminished sense of right and wrong, but hey, that’s on your conscience.

Our Readers Comments

  1. WOW, that is amazing, great find!

    i was always wondering how it would be possible to increase the spread of a G+ or FB campaign… would you recommend using “likes” as a metric for measuring success or traffic?

    • Hi Andre, it’s difficult to give a yes or no answer to that, I would say that as a rule of thumb, it can be a good metric to use. However, as I detailed in this post, it’s easy to “game” the system, so it’s not a fool-proof metric.

      I would suggest you use a number of metrics including:

      > social engagement
      > traffic
      > time on page
      > bounce rate

      Social engagement will tell you if the page was interesting enough for people to think others would generally find this interesting too. Very niche business-related content is likely to be shared more on channels like Twitter and Linkedin with Facebook accounting for more shares of fun content of general interest or usefulness to a wide range of people.

      Traffic will tell you (particularly from Google) whether or not your content appears in, and, appears relevant in search results, be sure to check your referring keywords too if you have Google Analytics set up.

      Time on page will tell you if people are reading your content, the longer they’re on there, the more interesting your content is likely to be. This is also available through Google Analytics.

      Bounce rate (also in Analytics) will show whether or not people found the site as a whole interesting. It tells you how many people viewed only this page and left your site. That being said, typically blog content which is created to answer a specific question is likely to have a higher bounce rate than a page which is designed to give product info and sell that product. This is because, if your blog post answers the visitor’s question, they typically don’t have a reason to explore the site further. Product pages are designed to lead the visitor into a buying/inquiry process on other pages.

      I’m not sure what level of understanding you have in terms of online marketing and content creation, so forgive me if I have detailed a lot of info you knew already!

  2. I cannot directly reply to your detailed answer but you have given me some great insight!!

    i highly appreciate it and will frequent the blog for little tidbits of great information!

    thanks Nick!

  3. Haha I’ve been trying to figure out why some of my pics on my nsfw site have over 200000+’s (some pics have the exact same amount) I definitely put a “juicy ad” just in case those are legit but I know they are not. I have only 4112 page views.

    • Hi there,

      The 1+ button is shorthand for ‘this is pretty cool’ or ‘you should check this out.’ Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.” It is pretty much the same as the like button on Facebook

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