Facebook’s Third-quarter Earnings Report Reveals Soaring Numbers of Fake & Duplicate Accounts

The decision-makers over at Facebook were likely pretty pleased with themselves on Wednesday night when their third-quarter earnings report was made public. The social media behemoth continues to enjoy an ever-increasing user base and continually-rising profits, with the company revealing a staggering 79% increase in quarterly profits which brings the figure for Q3 up to a more-than-healthy total of $4.7bn (£3.6bn).

Hidden within the small sprint however were a couple of figures of which Facebook are decidedly less proud, as it has emerged that the platform is littered with far more fake and duplicate accounts than previously stated with up to 270 million accounts on the social network deemed to be illegitimate in one form or another. The platforms number of fake accounts, which includes “user-misclassified and undesirable accounts”, tripled in relation to their July estimates, leaping from 1% to 3% in the time since. Similarly the number of duplicate accounts on the network rose from 6% to 10%, bringing the total number of illegitimate accounts on the platform up to nearly 270 million, which equates to roughly 13% of Facebook’s 2.1bn monthly users.

According to Facebook however this increase in the number of illegitimate accounts reportedly still active on the site is not due to an actual rise in fake or duplicate users; rather the increase is a result of “a new methodology for duplicate accounts that included improvements to the data signals we rely on.” Basically what they are saying is that the number of said undesirable accounts has not in fact increased - Facebook have just got better at identifying them.

The revelation may nonetheless have a negative impact upon the company’s perceived integrity, particularly in the wake of ongoing investigations into Russian election meddling via the use of advertising on their platform, and the recent questions raised regarding their advertising figures in which they claimed to be able to reach more people than actually exist within a given demographic, at least according to official census data.

There are plans in the pipeline intended to help deal with these issues however, as a spokesperson for Facebook told Business Insider that the same improved methodology updates which revealed the apparent uptick in illegitimate accounts will also be used in an effort to improve the accuracy of Facebook’s tools for advertisers; this improved accuracy should specifically affect Facebook’s estimates for the number of real people it can reach with an advertiser’s campaign, the source said.

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