At least 67 million Facebook accounts are false

Facebook. Image courtesy of ShutterstockSocial networking behemoth Facebook revealed last week that it had 757 million every day active users (DAUs) during December 2013, a year-on-year increase of 22%.

New figures from the company’s fourth quarter earnings report show 1.23 billion monthly active users (MAUs) during the similar month, of which 945 million accessed the service through mobile.

According to the company’s own 10-K filing, the answer would seem to be “no” due to the reality that a large number of accounts may, in fact, be false.

While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user support for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring usage of our products across big online and mobile populations around the world.

Facebook estimates that between 4.3% and 7.9% of its monthly active users were individuals signing in with more than one account, despite the fact that duplicate accounts are against its terms of service.

A further 0.8 percent to 2.1 percent of monthly users are believed to have been using misclassified accounts, used to represent something other than a real human customer, i.e. accounts created for pets, businesses or organisations.

Some 0.4 to 1.2 percent of accounts are said to be ‘undesirable’ because they have been created to violate Facebook terms of services by, for example, being used to send spam messages or new types of malicious links or content.

Put together, this would suggest that between 5.5% and 11.2% of all accounts on Facebook are either spare, malicious or otherwise ‘fake’.

Based on Facebook’s own figures, this means that anywhere from 67 up to 137 million monthly users are not as they may at initial seem.

Facebook believes there may be some geographical differences in the use of duplicate or false accounts though. Interestingly, it believes that the more developed markets in the US and UK are less prone to ‘fakes’.

Facebook also admitted that due to such restrictions, other figures, such as client age data, may not be entirely accurate.Whether the number of fake accounts is growing or shrinking is hard to say due to the fact that Facebook has now chosen to present a range of variables.

Previously, the company’s first earnings report gave a more precise figure of 8.7%, which equated to 83 million financial records.

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