Recently Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is in some hot water for appearing to “buy” facebook page likes.

This photo making the rounds on social media didn’t help things out at all.

   tony likes

The insinuation is that Tony Abbott bought over 100,000 likes from India.  But did he really do it?

Well you can find out with a little leg work.

Facebook has a tool that just isn’t reported on or publicised enough.  It’s called “graph search”.  It lets you find out all kinds of things without being connected to pages or people at all.

You can search for people who like your page.  You can search for pages liked by people that like your page.  Or you can search for people who like a foreign head of state that live in a city in India.

Seriously, go to your Facebook search bar and paste in this : People who like Tony Abbott and live in New Delhi, India

graph search

You’ll see that Tony has over 1,000 fans in New Delhi.  Facebook will only tell you that it’s over 1,000 fans – we have a client that has over 50 thousand fans in Sydney and a graph search on facebook gives the same vague number – “over 1,000 fans”.

But if you were to look a little further at another major Indian city and type in:  “People who like Tony Abbott and live in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India” you might see this vague “more than 1,000” number pop up again!

graph search mum


If you want to compare the details you could always graph search some info on the Liberal Party of Australia: People who like Liberal Party of Australia and live in New Delhi, India

There are more than 100 people, suspicious, but if you look at the other pages liked by these people, it looks like they’re legitimate fans of the Liberal Party and like the types of things you’d expect.

libs in india

I’m very certain that Tony Abbott didn’t intentionally buy these likes, and that his PR team was likely fooled by some digital marketing company that had a great promise of very cheap likes and instant social credibility.


Political optics aside, the downside of having page likes from people who aren’t going to interact or engage with your brand is rather large.

The whole point of having a  social profile page is the unparalleled ability to engage with your community and communicate  your message to people who want to receive it.

Every time Tony Abbott or his PR team make a Facebook post, there’s a good chance that post is going to be seen by people who won’t engage, reducing its effectiveness.

This is just a fantastic and horribly public, example of the dangers of buying cheap likes.