Beware: Making fun of Nickelback on Facebook (FB) could suddenly make you a member of their fan page. Gizmodo reports that there’s a new algorithm on Facebook that scans through users’ posts and private messages, finds frequently-used words and matches them up with pages that are automatically “liked” on their behalf. As Gizmodo’s Sam Biddle points out, this new practice could have bothersome consequences since users who are “talking about something disgusting, loathsome, and offensive” among friends may soon see that they’ve become “fans” of that thing. So a word of advice this Halloween season: Don’t talk about the devil costume you’re making while on Facebook, or you may find yourself “liking” the World Satanist Society fan page.
UPDATE: Facebook has clarified this issue with TheNextWeb and is flatly denying that it is “liking” third-party fan pages on users’ behalf if they simply send around an article or post a message about a particular subject. However, the company does say that links shared through private messages can indeed add a user’s “like” to the article in question, although this “like” is only used for counting purposes and will not show up on a user’s timeline. So for example, if you send a “Nickelback is Awesome!” article to a friend, that article will record an extra “like” on its share count. However, no one will know that you specifically liked the article itself. So it sounds as though it’s OK to secretly like Nickelback on Facebook for now.