Did This Sad Old Democrat Buy His Facebook Popularity?

Campaign season is heating up, and in Michigan's 3rd congressional district the Democratic primary battle pits an entrenched 60-year-old against a young social media upstart. Guess whose campaign has more Facebook Likes? Old man Steve Pestka's. He's got the best Facebook friends money can buy.

Eclectablog reports the curious rise of Steve Pestka's Facebook popularity. Pestka has been running a pretty traditional campaign against Trevor Thomas, who's running a "more modern campaign" that "involves heavy use of social media to create a buzz and appeal to a wider cross-section of voters." Then a few weeks ago, Pestka's Facebook popularity skyrocketed from just over 1000 likes to some 7500. Impressive! Er, except it's pretty suspicious:

But what's even stranger than the surge is the demographics of his followers. If you look at the screenshot above, you'll see his "Most popular age group" is 13-17 year-olds and his most popular city is in Israel. In April, it was kids in the age range of 13-17 from the Philippines:

While this is hardly definitive proof that Pestka's campaign went on a Facebook Like shopping spree, it's hard to think of any other plausible explanation. Eclectablog spoke to the Pestka campaign, which claimed that the meteoric rise was due to nontargeted Faebook ads. Yeah, sure, right. Dear inexperienced social media people of the world: Don't try to be sneaky. We will catch you. [Eclectablog via Sean Carlson]