If you don’t share any love, you don’t get any friends


Or why a sudden decrease of daily friend requests got me thinking that the [loveMachine] wasn’t running anymore.

I’ve been running a script for about 8 months now that logs into my Facebook account and automatically likes everything it sees in my home timeline. This activity generates a lot of clicks on my behalf, around 1000 likes a day. And a consequence of this activity is that I get a lot of friend requests.

I haven’t (yet) created another script that accepts all these requests for me. The [loveMachine] is about distributing likes, not fully automating a Facebook account. Although, this should not be too hard to add. But I like to keep things simple.

Anyway, I do login back on Facebook once in a while to perform by hand these basic routines and check that everything runs fine. And last friday, I was surprised to see there was no friend requests pending and that the activity around my profile was somewhat different from the usual crap I have to put up with. Something was wrong. And the easiest way to have an overall look at a Facebook profile is to access the “Activity Log” page (see top right drop-down menu to access it). From there, I could see that might lastest like was performed 3 days earlier. Definitely something was not performing right.

I then logged on my personal server, from where the script is running. And strangely, the only thing I could see was that Facebook was not sending my bot a proper page. Just a blank empty html. No login form, no data. Not even a logo. I changed the user-agent, changed server, and asked for confirmation from other [loveMachine] users. The response was always the same.

Over the weekend, I did some research on how could a website detect the use of bots and scrapers. And for a while, I thought Facebook had come with a perfect answer. But then I stumbled upon a post on the Casperjs forum. Due to the POODLE bug, Facebook had been disabling SSL v3, which my bot (written in Casperjs) was using by default. Using another SSL protocol just simply solved the problem. And the [loveMachine] was back on track.

This little pause in the process showed me how much I got used to the constant activity the [loveMachine] is generating. Since my friends count got over 1000, I wasn’t really paying much attention to this constantly increasing number. I even got to think it was a natural consequence. Once you get to a certain number of friends, they might just be coming in. I was wrong and this little break proved it. Facebook is an attention seeker. You have to give it something in order to get something back.