Facebook sells advertisers on its access to real people — 2.32 billion of them, a network that exceeds the populations of North America, South America and Africa combined.
But do that many people really use Facebook?
The answer lies partly in how many of the accounts are fake. The Silicon Valley company defines fake accounts as profiles that are either designed to break its rules, for example by spammers or scammers impersonating others, or that are misclassified, such as someone setting up a Facebook profile instead of a Facebook page for a business.
Yet the number of Facebook accounts that fit those descriptions is less clear. While the company discloses its estimates of fake accounts, its figures have fluctuated and are confusing. Even Facebook admits its understanding of the numbers is tenuous.
“Duplicate and false accounts are very difficult to measure at our scale,” it said in a securities filing in October, and the actual numbers “may vary significantly from our estimates.”
For years, investors, analysts and journalists had only Facebook’s estimates to judge fake accounts. Last year, Facebook introduced a transparency page, which discloses how many fake accounts it has taken down each quarter. Those figures revealed that the scope was far larger than the estimates in securities filings had suggested.
Let’s run through the math on this in more detail. Facebook’s new numbers added up to more than 2.8 billion fake accounts taken down in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, or about 7.7 million a day.
Facebook had previously reported that about 3 percent to 4 percent of its active users were fake. According to the new figures, the accounts taken down each quarter were equivalent to 25 percent to 35 percent of its active users (though those accounts were not counted in Facebook’s active-user tallies because they had been removed).
I am shocked and stunned by this.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human beings I’ve ever known in my life.
They would never do anything to violate the trust of their customers, and their users.
Please understand that the above is sarcasm.