April 29, 2015 5:03 pm
Updated: April 29, 2015 6:24 pm

Facebook ‘block party’ events might not be what they seem

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WATCH ABOVE: People promoting events online may be mining user data and marketing products to thousands of users. Peter Kim reports.

Even the casual user of social media has likely come across invites to massive communal celebrations promising a good time.

Recently one such “block party” had to move indoors with a change of venue to a club – a move leaving many wondering how legitimate the event was in the first place.

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Global News contacted the manager of Gravity Soundbar who said he didn’t know anything about the party that was supposedly happening at the event space on June 1, a Monday.

“Companies are setting up fake events on Facebook, basically to create buzz,” says Abbas Alidina, CEO of Crowdbabble.

Crowdbabble provides Facebook analytics to clients and Alidina says the first step is to build a base of followers — in this case Facebook users who have confirmed attendance.

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“Later the company changes the messaging to promote their own brand or product. So basically they’re creating buzz, and then driving attention to their own product or service,” he explained.

Global News reached out to the administrators of the event but they did not return our requests for comment. At last check the party had 12,000 confirmed attendees.

Another goal of some companies is to cull user data. The Facebook event page will redirect you to an external site where users are required to purchase a ticket.

“Then you have their phone number, email address, and in severe cases maybe credit card and financial information,” says Alidina.

A quick search on Facebook will turn up a number of ostensibly massive communal parties. From Woodbine Beach to Trinity Bellwoods Park, the events can boast thousands of confirmed attendees. The popularity is part of their allure; something known as the bandwagon effect.

“If it has 10,000 people who say they are going, that lends it legitimacy and you go, ‘oh if all these people think it’s real, it must be real,’” said Ramona Pringle, social and digital media expert with Ryerson University.

And when some of those attendees are your friends, you’re more likely to buy into the hype.

Cross checking with Google can help weed out fake events said Pringle.

“Do your due diligence. Check out the local listings for where parties are and where events might be.”

If events offer few details you should also be suspicious she said. By 4:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, the posting for Toronto Block Party 2015 had been removed.

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