Online fakery is a hot topic at the moment. Mitt Romney was accused yesterday of buying thousands of fake Twitter followers after his account gained 140,000 new followers in two days. Researchearlier this year revealed that as many as 50% of the followers of big brands were in fact fakes.
Facebook has not been immune from criticism though. The BBC conducted research last month and found that many new fans of a fictional page were in fact fake accounts. This combined with a high profile claim by retailer Limited Run that 80% of clicks on Facebook ads were not from real people has prompted an official response from Facebook.
The company published a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating that 8.7% of its active user total could be violating their terms of service. This means they are either duplicate, mis-categorized or undesirable accounts that are designed to spam.
In the filing they suggested that there are as many as 83 million illegitimate accounts on the site. 4.8% of the total user base are said to be duplicate accounts, with for instance people creating one account for work and one for family/friends.
Facebook says 2.4 percent of accounts are likely mis-categorized accounts where users have created personal profiles for a business, organization or pet. These entities should be represented on Facebook with pages, not profiles, according to the social network’s terms of service.
Facebook also estimates that 1.5 percent of monthly active users are “undesirable accounts,” which are false accounts that are created for spamming or other purposes that violate terms. Earlier this week, a music startup claimed that 80 percent of clicks on its Facebook ad campaign came from bots. Facebook says it is investigating the claims.
They went on to say that most of these accounts originate from developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey. The figures represent a growth in fake activity after they revealed figures of just 5-6% in March.