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Facebook Estimates Around 10% of Accounts Are Fake 140

An anonymous reader writes "Last week, during its fourth-quarter earnings report, Facebook revealed it had 1.23 billion monthly active users, 757 million daily active users, 945 million monthly active mobile users, and 556 million daily active mobile users. In its 10-K filing published on the weekend, the company estimated that in 2013, between 5.5 percent and 11.2 percent of these users were fake." Another anonymous reader sent in a link to a recent interview where Mark Zuckerberg appears more pragmatic in his opinions about forcing real identities online: "Former Facebook employees say identity and anonymity have always been topics of heated debate in the company. Now Zuckerberg seems eager to relax his old orthodoxies. 'I don’t know if the balance has swung too far, but I definitely think we’re at the point where we don’t need to keep on only doing real identity things,' he says. 'If you’re always under the pressure of real identity, I think that is somewhat of a burden.'"
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Facebook Estimates Around 10% of Accounts Are Fake

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  • by DMiax ( 915735 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:08PM (#46145897)

    At this point, they will get to your name in any case. They have accumulated such a massive data base that they will identify you in a number of other ways. Your real name will eventually leak to them through your friends or because they match it with your address, or mining your company's staff page, or because you pay something with your credit card, etc... Plus a ton of other things.

    Just because you don't have your real name there it does not mean they don't know who you are. It might help gainst other parties data mining/stalking you, though.

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:20PM (#46145973) Homepage Journal

    A lot of so-called "fake" accounts were created because FB is way too pervy, wanting to know enough information about you that they can sell it to content aggregators.

    So one creates "fake" accounts with no real phone number attached and a generic image to stop FB from being too NSA.

    Maybe they should back off. Everyone is leaving fast because their perv-quotient is way too high.

  • Ya think, Zuck? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:26PM (#46146013)

    If Zuckerberg is publically acknowledging 10% then you can be sure it's a lot higher than that. I'd peg it at closer to 25%. But that's not the real issue. The real issue is that, due to FB's policies, legitimate users feel compelled to put in fake names, birthdates, locations, schools, employers, etc. Why? Because of FB's continued and well documented history of deceptive security practices. You cannot trust them and it's one of the main reasons I don't use facebook.

    In short, the users don't want to give up their accounts entirely (although I'm sure many have) but remain there with a fake identity. So the question then becomes: for a company like FB where almost 100% of their revenue comes from advertising how effective is it when you are advertising to zombie accounts?

  • Re:For Testing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:30PM (#46146045)

    What's a fake account?

    Given their terms of service your testing account is almost certainly fake. If you only look at it to "like" stuff that you don't even care enough about to do so publicly, its fake, (as is your "like").

    I only know a few people with facebook accounts who don't have a second so-called "testing" account, plus a couple accounts they started and then abandoned.

    So I'm thinking the 50% number is closer to the mark than the 10%

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:47PM (#46146103)

    They'll use 11.2% when valuating their user base to dodge as much tax as possible and 5.5% to push up the price they charge advertisers.

  • Re:For Testing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:40PM (#46146393)

    > If you only look at it to "like" stuff that you don't even care enough about to do so publicly, its fake, (as is your "like").

    It's a "like" that was unabashedly purchased from a user, how real could it possibly be?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:42PM (#46146403)

    (Posted anonymously to protect my male identity.)

    I'm a transgendered individual, and I maintain my original Facebook profile in my real name, and a separate Facebook profile in my femme name. The two profiles are not connected. I use neither of them for troll or spam purposes, but merely to reflect the two different halves of "me," and I don't consider either one to be "fake." I've little doubt, however, that Facebook would think of my femme profile as "fake," though it's backed with real friends, real photos, and mostly-valid personal data that I've entered, albeit with a gender of "female."

    If Facebook is really considering relaxing being so fussy about "real identities," it can only help me and others like me.

  • by GumphMaster ( 772693 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @11:18PM (#46146963)

    I deal with two routinely: our State and Federal government (Downunder not murrican versions)

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @05:37AM (#46148099)
    There is fake as in pseudonym, fake as in sockpuppet / troll and fake as in bot. Some people have legitimate reasons for wishing to remain anonymous while still being a real person behind that name. e.g. maybe someone is a victim of rape or domestic violence, or a political dissident, or simply values their personal privacy while wishing to use a network to collate their interests. Is it really that hard for Facebook to challenge a user in a manner which would confound a bot but verify there is a human on the other side? Is it really that hard for Facebook to establish a level of "trust" that the human is not some idiot troll or otherwise engaged in antisocial activity based on their posts?

    Aside from that, some people enjoy anonymity simply by virtue of having a common name. I bet there are millions of real John Smiths who can hide in plain sight simply by virtue of their name. Yet someone with the unfortunate name Ammonia Bumblebee would be instantly and uniquely identifiable.

    Anyway, I notice Facebook are pushing real identities more and some sites are requiring users sign on with a "verified" real account. But their manner of authentication is incredibly weak - provide a mobile telephone number. It is trivial to obtain a sim in many countries. e.g. in the UK every Poundland sells SIMs at the counter. Throw it into an old phone, use it to register on Facebook as "real", wait for the authentication code, and away you go. Pretty stupid really.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @11:51AM (#46150217)

    If they tightened up security better then many people wouldn't need a secondary "fake" account. This is after I pointed out a super easy trick to Facebook that will quickly give you the full friend list of a user, even if that person set visibility of his friend list to 'only me' and even if you're not friends with that person. (Not would they know that you acquired their friend list). Facebook claim that users shouldn't expect your friend list to be private, which makes it all the more misleading to offer restricted visibility of tour friends list. Broken / misleading security is a lot worse than no security, i.e. just telling people everyone can obtain their full friends list. This trick exists to this day, had not been addressed or even acknowledged as valid. So much for helping out Facebook through contacting them.

    You're assuming the security is there for the users.

    It's not. The whole notion of privacy on Facebook, or Google, or any other social networking site is purely for marketing purposes. Yes, marketing. The people who run these companies aren't stupid. They know that a number of people will refuse to put on personal information if they weren't in someway "protected" or can "control" it.

    Of course, it's really like telling a secret - once you tell, it's not a secret anymore, and any promises made by the told party are mere words said to encourage the telling of secrets.

    Facebook, Google, and others have the vast databases because they've hoodwinked everyone into believing they have control over the information. Just a few empty words to get people to open up.

    The adage still holds true - don't put online what you don't want the whole world to know.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.