Facebook DOES NOT have 83 Million Fake Accounts, Relax

by Jason Keath on Aug 02, 2012
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Lots of blogs are reporting that Facebook has 83 million fake accounts. Or 8.7% of the 955 million monthly active Facebook users. Those are pretty scary numbers, especially for the millions of businesses that are marketing through the platform.

Except one thing, this is NOT true.

The numbers quoted represent duplicate accounts (4.8 percent), personal accounts that are actually businesses (2.4 percent), and real fake accounts (the spammers and bots we all hate).

Those first two categories are real people. There are a myriad of reasons why someone would have more than one Facebook account. I would wager most of those dups are teachers who need to keep an account for their school and a private one for friends and family.

Many Facebook users find a need for a professional and a private personal account. These are still valid and useful users for marketers.

The businesses with personal accounts are likely very small businesses for the most part, being managed by one active owner or employee. These are less valid targets for marketers, but still useful because there is a person actively engaged on the platform representing a group of targeting criteria. Less ideal than personal profiles, but still useful.

That last part, the real fake accounts, represent only 1.5% or 14 million. A big cry from 83 million.

These numbers are all real and come from Facebook’s recent 10-Q filing with the SEC. But it would be nice to see the numbers represented in a more useful manner.

If 1.5% of the Facebook users are fake, or spammers, I would say that is pretty good. Consider how much spam we see in email or on Twitter. Even Google search results have their share of crap web pages.


Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...

  • I hear your perspective and agree that the stats are exaggerated to some degree – BUT the big issue here is not only in ‘fake’ accounts rather unique users with accurate information.  For all those people that have a second account to represent their business (which is VERY common – I used to have one that was used only to manage multiple Facebook pages) – in most cases those accounts are virtually dead.  The biz accounts are created to shroud/mask who you really are and thus, the chances that any real interaction or engagement is happening on that account is very low.  Meanwhile, Facebook’s active account stat is ringing hard for these accounts since there is ongoing Facebook page management being filtered through them.  At the end of the day, I’m not really surprised at the stat and it certainly doesn’t mean marketers should head for the hills – but I do think Facebook needs to accurately communicate this information. 

  • Jason, right on, buddy! Even if there were tens of millions of fake users, there is little impact from them if they’re just dormant.  A lot of the fake accounts we see are ones created just to inflate fan counts. Innocuous. Now if they were clicking on ads all day and spamming people, that would be a different problem.

  • I understand what you mean. I myself maintain a page for my public profile and I have another account profile for friends and family.

    I don’t think it would make any effect into Facebook marketing strategy. Cheers.

  • Let’s not forget the dead and their pets. One day… there will be 955 million dead people on Facebook, if it lasts.

  • That’s a great point @JasonLongo:disqus . How “fake” is an account that belongs to a dead person? I’ve read somewhere that there are more than 50 mil accounts belonging to dead people (could be wrong and don’t remember any proof) already. This whole hoopla over fake accounts is really besides the point. Yes there are spambots, and they’re terrible, and most (if not all) social networks had them. Even old-school networks (i.e. physical real-world networks) had “fake spam-bots”: sleazy people who’s only motivation was pushing some product constantly (drug dealers?).

    The bigger number to focus on and discover is how many people have bare profiles and how many people are active on the networks because that communicates how valuable a fan is to a company. 

  • Jason, anytime I see something being misrepresented, there is a reason. It could be laziness, stupidity or something more intentional. Why is the media (especially in the UK, where it has been a drumbeat) screaming about fake accounts?

  • How about those people that you’ve been asking for 5 years to join Facebook and they show up with a husband and wife account using their husband and wife e-mail? Rolls eyes.

  • Dead on! Love that someone actually took time to investigate and post this. You da man!

  • Facebook’s argument largely has to do with inefficient/ineffective ad revenue (pressured even more by the 10-Q). But their argument has a flaw; like many, I use AdBlock in my browser and could use it in my other browser as well. My account 2 is a professional account, since I’m a professor and don’t want my students knowing my personal account–it’s far easier to manage two personal profiles with different content in each than it is a profile and a page or a profile with mind boggling privacy settings. Also, I don’t need to log into Facebook during (internet marketing) lecture and have my students see my personal News Feed. 
    And yet, Google doesn’t seem to have problem with Multiple Account Login and advertising efficiency–rather, they’ve kept making multiple account managing even easier.My problem isn’t so much the numbers, it’s Facebook’s routinely autocratic decision to “crack down” on the “fake” accounts… and then decide it’s keeping the contents. I understand Facebook wants to TOS violation. But since they’re so good at autocratically changing TOS, they could easily change it in favor of multiple accounts.

  • Good point Jason.

  • yomor

    I totally agree. Facebook, TV, Magazines, radio, direct mail, what ever you choose to let people know about you have a risk. If you run a tv commercial yo don’t know how many people will see it, you can have an average, but you never will be sure, cuz on commercials may I go to the bath or talk… how can you know if I see you? same to all, but facebook it’s free and most of the humans love it. “good point”.

  • heheh true. Unless they develop a system to automatically deactivate an account whicch hasnt been active for a year or 2.

  • c1n1m1n

    No, they have MORE. I have 3000 fakes myself, and an email if you want as many as you want of your own. I also have a page that acquired almost 90,000 fake profiles from Facebook advertising…so, I am only one person, add some numbers and it will surpass the “estimated nunbers”…and question..when Facebook mysteriously surpasses the World’s population…what will be the Facebook excuse then?

  • marvin

    hi kamzta kana miss na miss na kita

  • anonymous

    facebook only quote the reported fake accounts. what about the unreported ????