Simply read this post to be in with a chance to win my respect. Fuck it, have an iPad too.

I clicked “like” on a lovely page last week, and now I might win an iphone5 !! They have 1500 that they can’t sell because the packaging is damaged and they HAVE to give them away. I shared it on your wall. Thank me later!

Nah, have a nice cup of fuckoffee instead. Apart from the usual tendency of my FB news feed to test the limits of banality, this week I’ve spotted more and more people Please-Like-And-Share-ng (hereafter referred to as PLAS) pictures of unreleased phones and other funky gadgets. I can see how it would have spiked, as I ranted about not so long ago round these parts there are lots and lots of new shinies appearing on the market this season. Sadly, it’s all a massive scam and PLASing is a complete waste of time. Firstly, think about it for just a couple of minutes. As anyone who’s worked in a warehouse, wrapped a christmas present or – indeed – used cling film will know, “damaged packaging” is probably not an irreparable issue for most businesses. Even Apple and Samsung? EVEN Apple and Samsung. Apple make a small fortune repackaging and reselling old stock on their website. Why the shit would they give it away for free just because somebody scuffed the box?

But…Apple wouldn’t lie to me, they’d get sued?

That’s because it’s not Apple giving away anything, or even pretending to. It’s pages with names like “free iPad giveaway”, “samsung galaksee s fore” or “Great Online Giveaway Funtime Emporium”. Protip – legitimate companies have legitimate pages. If it’s the official Apple page, it probably has more followers than Catholicism. If you click like and see a popup saying “3 friends and their dogs liked this”, it’s not a major electronics company, ok? It’s just plain not. Strangely enough, the legitimate pages WILL occasionally give away goodies if you follow them, so if you don’t mind a little adspam (more on this later) then by all means, follow companies you’re interested in. Just don’t be surprised when Sorny Compater Entertainmentings turns out to be a disappointment.

But….why would anyone go to the effort of setting up a fake competition page just to get people to like them?

Because they don’t give a flying fuck what you think about the new device OR whether anyone wins or not, they just need your eyes. Y’see folks, Facebook doesn’t show you everything. For those of you with ridiculous amounts of friends, try to think about how many of their posts you’ve seen in the last 7 days. Is it 400? 200? maybe 50? The reason for this is that Facebook works out who you interact with most and shows you what it thinks is relevant to you. Who you’re interested in, who you chat with, whose comments you like, whose photos you creepily rifled through looking for scantily-clad holiday snaps and so on. You dirty bastard, you. Anyway, FB will deliver peoples updates to you based on who you’ve interacted with most recently. Can you see where this is headed?

Not really, no. 

WELL, what it means is that if you and 1000 others PLAS one of these competitions, then the next thing the competition page says is going to go right up to the top of your newsfeed. This sounds like a bad idea for the guys running the scam contest, right? I mean, you rarely get an update along the lines of “Samsung Giveaway has just tagged you in a photo”, right? Except that’s not what you see, because the scam artist that posed as the competition has taken a shitload of money from an actual company that’s actually trying to sell you something. The company buys the profile page so that their next ad – product launch, discount, event – goes flying right to the top of a whole lot of news feeds without anybody knowing they had opted in to their ads in the first place. Suddenly “competition clicky giveaway freebie” has become some ad from some company that you never wanted any harassment from. Scam page’s original owner turns a few bucks profit, real company gets a fuckton of free advertising that hits you on every device you own, you wonder when exactly you clicked like on “Engelberts Excellent Enemas”, life goes on.

Oh, now I see. So….fucking what? So fucking WHAT if I get exposed to ads I didn’t want to see, that’s pretty much the same as any other medium or billboard?”

Yeah, fair point, except that you’re giving away the only thing FB makes money off. Your attention. You see Facebook is, at its core, a marketing company. They take your attention and sell it to advertisers. Google do the same thing. Both reward you by providing services but be under no illusion, the commodity that is being bought and sold online is you, the user. Me, I’ve got no problem with that, however for those of you that are a little more concerned about what ads get forced down your throat online, you might want to reconsider before PLASuring yourself so publicly next time round.

Simply read this post to be in with a chance to win my respect. Fuck it, have an iPad too.

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