Facebook: 76 million accounts were fake last year

Just over 7 percent of accounts were duplicates or not held by real people, the company said in a regulatory filing

All those pet cat profiles add up: Facebook has reported that roughly 76 million of the 1.06 billion user accounts on its social network are bogus in some way or other.

The company identifies three types of accounts that don't represent actual users: duplicate accounts, misclassified accounts and undesirable accounts. Together, they added up to just over 7 percent of its worldwide monthly active users last year.

Facebook disclosed the figures in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission on Friday.

Duplicate accounts, or those maintained by people in addition to their principal account, represent 53 million accounts, or 5 percent of the total, Facebook said.

Misclassified accounts, including those created for non-human entities such as pets or organizations, which instead should have Facebook Pages, accounted for almost 14 million accounts, or 1.3 percent of the total.

And undesirable accounts, such as those created by spammers, rounded out the tally with 9.5 million accounts, or 0.9 percent of users.

Facebook said it continually tries to improve its ability to identify these duplicate or false accounts. It also noted that there's a higher percentage of such accounts in developing countries such as Indonesia and Turkey, compared to developed markets like the U.S. and Australia.

Using a fake name is against Facebook's policies and it encourages users to report friends who use false names or set up fake accounts.

"We have a dedicated User Operations team that reviews these reports and takes action as necessary," along with technical systems in place to flag and block potential fake accounts based on name and anomalous site activity, a company spokeswoman said.

The latest figures aren't very different from those Facebook reported midway through last year. There were slightly fewer duplicate accounts for the quarter ended June 30. But there were almost twice as many misclassified accounts, at 22 million, and also more undesirable accounts, at 14 million.

Facebook said the numbers it reports are based on a limited sample of accounts, and that it exercises judgment in its counting, "such as identifying names that appear to be fake or other behavior that appears inauthentic to the reviewers."

Still, Facebook does not specify in the filing how it judges the authenticity of one "meow" over another.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social mediainternetFacebooksocial networkingInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?