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A Facebook bot purge clobbered USA Today, and no one knows why

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USA Today last week reported that Facebook was breaking up an “extensive fake account scam” targeting publisher pages with false “likes.” The ruse apparently was intended to yield the scammers more friends they could later spam, and USA Today added that it was “among the publishers impacted.”
Not included in its report was the fact the news organization was the central target of the scam, which decimated USA Today’s topline Facebook metrics. Whereas some other major outlets saw follower counts dip by hundreds of thousands of “likes” following Facebook’s bot purge, USA Today’s main page lost an estimated 5.8 million such followers between April 13 and April 15, according to CrowdTangle data. It slashed the page’s following by more than a third, and it came in addition to massive decreases in “likes” at other USA Today-affiliated pages, such as USA Today Sports.
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