No, Mitt Romney Didn't Personally Hack Your Facebook

from the going-mobile dept

And the election season silliness continues. In keeping with the tradition of campaigning against candidates’ gaming habits and strange Obama/YouTube conspiracy theories, there's apparently been some hubbub surrounding the mysterious liking of Mitt Romney. Apparently a fair number of liberal-minded folks have noticed that their Facebook profiles have “liked” Mitt Romney on the social media network against the wishes of the profile owner. When questions began to rise as to how this was possible, one popular theory circulating was that Mitt Romney was Zero-Cool-ing people's Facebook profiles to garner more positive attention. Theoretically someone inside his campaign did this for him.


“Now we'll have to spell your name all 'puter like, p4uL rY4n!”

Image source: CC BY 2.0

Well, in what I'm sure will shock everyone, no, Mitt Romney and his campaign did not rappel into a server farm Mission Impossible style and hack the internet tubes. Instead, the culprit appears to be Facebook's clumsy mobile application and its accomplice Senor Your-Fat-Fingers.

[Facebook] concluded that users are probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a “sponsored story” from the Romney campaign in their news feed. A Facebook spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the issue is unique to mobile because of the way the app works on small screens, and rejected the idea that the Romney camp was engaging in clickjacking. He added that the company is currently working to clean up its mobile interface.

That, coupled with people who are “liking” Romney's page just so they can see what he's putting out there, even though they may not support him, is admittedly a far less fun explanation than the idea of Romney going all The Net on social media, but I never claimed that the truth was better than fiction. So it's back to your regularly scheduled social media political talk for all of you. Remember: anyone supporting Obama is a Chinese commie spy moron and anyone supporting Romney is almost certainly Hitler.

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “No, Mitt Romney Didn't Personally Hack Your Facebook”

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Zakida Paul says:

If nothing else, US presidential elections are good comedy value. Candidates have no substance and simply rely on cheap slogans and soundbites to get elected. They avoid a serious debate on real issues at all cost and take any opportunity to stick the knife in their opponent to make them look bad.

People get plenty of reasons why they should not vote for the competition but very few on why they should vote for them. I hate negative politics.

Manfred Manfriend says:

Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

I see almost every day a post with a picture of some kind or another with text on it. From both candidates, usually something that will primarily appeal to their core demographics, but also more times than not a generic statement about Mom, Apple Pie, and ‘Merica is shown and people are liking the photo or the text of that particular photo, not realizing they are also liking the page when they like the image. It has a lot more to do with the way Facebook is allowing the “like” to be construed than it does blaming the victim for having “fat fingers” does.

I’m not too sure how much longer I’ll have a Facebook account though. Between this type of thing, inability to sort my feed by time posted, and the constant sponsored stories I’m finding the site less and less valuable to actually get the information about people I care about.

Manfred Manfriend says:

Re: Re: Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

That’s kind of my point. There’s clearly something else at work here besides fat fingers.

As for the election, you’ll have to get back to Diebold on that.

Myself, I’m casting a vote of “no confidence” in the system by staying home election night. I do not consent to be governed by this broken one party system, and I choose to deny its validity by not participating in its rituals. We have no democracy or representation in the United States of America.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are you insane? Think about this. If a Masnick/Helmet ticket actually won the election, these would be my first steps in office:

1. Initiate long-held plan to assassinate Mike Masnick, leading to my ascending to President

2. Ensure all government badges/emblems had “Motherfucking Eagle” plastered on them

3. Make the TSA where clown outfits. I mean, if they’re going to go around creeping people out anyway….

4. Rescind the enforcement of copyright/patent law to a hilarious 3 days and watch the scrambling fun

5. Have my cabinet littered with high-priced call girls. At briefings around the table, my head is the only one you’ll be able to see.

Is that REALLY what you want in a President?!!?!?

Anonymous Coward says:

So let me get this straight....

There’s a social media platform where you’re given intrusive enough ads that this many people accidentally click on them, and clicking on an ad automatically tells the world that you like what the ad was for, and people are still using this?

Lets tack that on as yet another reason to not use facebook.

MrWilson says:

“[Facebook] concluded that users are probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a ?sponsored story? from the Romney campaign in their news feed.”

While fat fingers might be the cause of the action, it sounds like Facebook’s mobile interface is to blame. Why would clicking on an ad or a sponsored story cause you to “like” something? Since when does attention equal affection?

It sounds like Facebook is making a weird assumption in their user experience design that assumes that people only read about things they like.

A Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My girlfriend accidentally “Likes” things on Facebook Mobile on a fairly regular basis. Apparently it’s quite easy to accidentally click it.

Similarly, I often use another app on her phone and accidentally click advertisements (bringing up the web browser with the advertisement). There’s no real incentive for them to improve it, since that’s how they get money.

Laroquod (profile) says:

Techdirt you have fumbled this story. Rather than disproving something few people would actually believe, maybe a better lede would have been that this is the most politically disturbing data point yet — by far — in the ongoing tale of Facebook liking things against the user’s will.

Facebook’s automatic like system is now even distorting the picture of political allegiances online: that’s the story here, not debunking some ridiculous Mitt-sion Impossible scenario.

gorehound (profile) says:

I should be on that House Committee on Science and Technology.

1.Death to all Software Patents
2.Mandatory Life Sentence to all Patent Trolls
3.No Teaching of Fake Creation BS in Public Schools
4.Next A-Hole to make Rape Comments will be Raped by a broom handle
5.Real Effort to make and mass produce Alternative Non-Middle Eastern Petroleum
6.Work on Climate Issues
7.Teach Evolution in all Public Schools

IronM@sk (profile) says:

Not Allowed to Comment Unless You 'Like' Something

Lets not forget that, due to they way Facebook works, you must “like” a page in order to comment. Since 73.6% of all statistics on the internet are made up, I would suspect around 15.3% of page “likes” are from people that don’t actually like the page, but just wanted to voice their opinion on, or, troll said page.

Rocco Rizzo (profile) says:

what a steaming pile

I NEVER EVER ‘liked’ Rmoney’s page, and I keep getting ads for his, and all kind of right wing fascist garbage. I think that their ad machine cannot differentiate between left and right politics, because EVERYTHING, and I do mean
E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G I post is leaning left. Some of it is so far left, it scares some of my “progressive” friends.
So don’t pee on my head and tell me it’s raining. I have even attempted to block Bishop Willard’s ads, and they still keep coming up. I have used every reason that they have. Do not tell me that it’s my fat fingers either.
And wtf is zero-cool-ing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Dude, that whole “only on mobile devices” thing is complete crap. My lady friend has no mobile device, just a PC. She had this happen to her. Her father as well, who has no mobile device. If I had to wager a guess, it would be that the “like” button is being cleverly placed near other images or content on third party sites, and thus people think they are “liking” something else. I do not use Facebook in any way, shape or for, but to me, this appears to be the issue.

The reason Facebook gave such a malarkey answer is probably because they don’t want people to realize how silly and easily gamed the “like” buttons are.

Mark Turner (user link) says:

Um, no. Something fishy is really, really happening

Sorry, TechDirt. Many Facebook users who’ve reported having this happen don’t even own smart phones. Some occasional Facebook users with only a half-dozen likes were shocked to see they’d been hacked by Mitt Romney. One woman discovered with horror that her deceased father’s Facebook page had been signed up. It’s hard to fat-finger something when you’re dead.

What most people don’t know is that Facebook tracks EVERYTHING a user does on its site. Users can see everything they’ve done recorded in Facebook’s Activity Log. Curiously, those who’ve been unwittingly signed up for Romney’s page cannot find any Like for his page listed in their Activity Logs, unlike the many hundreds of other Likes they may have made. It’s my opinion that this can only be a hack from the inside (whether Facebook knows it or not).

Facebook’s Mobile Mistake theory doesn’t hold up, as I demonstrated on my blog. The network security guru Mother Jones consulted in the article, Bill Pennington, doesn’t buy Facebook’s explanation either. There is more to this than most people know.

Obviously I don’t think Mitt Romney is doing this himself but it appears that someone is doing it on the campaign’s behalf. There’s just too much anecdotal evidence to be anything else.

I urge anyone who’s seen this happen to sign up for the Hacked By Mitt Romney page ( for more updates. You can also read my research on my blog,

Mark Turner
Founder, Hacked by Mitt Romney Facebook page

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