83 Million Facebook Accounts are Fake- What does it Mean?

A recent stat released by Facebook shows that around 83 million Facebook accounts are fake. This 83 million accounts for 8.7% of all Facebook accounts- 1.5% of total accounts are spam.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time. Investors and brands are all keeping close eyes on Facebook’s ability to make profits, particularly through advertising. Recent claims by some brands accuse Facebook of faking Facebook profiles and using these profiles to click on ads, effectively increasing advertising performance and Facebook revenue.  With 83 million fake Facebook accounts, many are crying foul play and say this stat supports these brand claims.

What does this all mean? In my opinion, not much.

First off, I highly doubt any of these fake Facebook accounts were made by Facebook. Facebook has a huge emphasis on sharing content, and forcing clicks and likes for brands from fake accounts does not support this. Fake accounts mean a low engagement with brands, and Facebook has increased its analytics tools for Facebook pages- all of which show an enhanced look at page engagements. The more fake accounts Facebook would push to like brands, the lower these engagement rates would be.

For all of those companies claiming Facebook robots are clicking on their ads, I would like to point out a few things. Number one, targeting. I have noticed that many who make these claims say they didn’t use any geotargeting. There are companies out there that allow brands to purchase likes. Many of these profiles are in fact fake and are from India. Given that Facebook ads are real-time bidding and not many companies are targeting India, it’s likely that you would win these impressions in India without any targeting. In one study, Virtual Bagel, BBC found that with $10 they received 1,600 likes, primarily from India. Any company running Facebook ads in the US would find that Like rate incredibly unattainable, even for large companies like Samsung or Apple. Number two, legitimacy. Many of these studies fail to show their raw data. In the hype of the Facebook IPO, I think many companies wanted media attention. Number three, understanding. I can see many companies starting out running Facebook ads with  no idea how to run them or target them. Then they fail and want to blame it all on Facebook.

Secondly, there are fake accounts everywhere- Gmail, Twitter, YouTube, you name it. Facebook just lands these headlines because they’re currently under a microscope because of their IPO. Have you taken a look at Twitter lately? Look at all of the profiles out there claiming they can get you thousands of Twitter followers and that they’re part of #TeamFollowBack. Legitimate? Not at all. Yet Twitter doesn’t make the headlines on this. These same profiles not only interfere with brand advertising, they create spam and headache for all Twitter users.

Finally, it’s a small number. With only 1.5% of Facebook accounts being labeled as spam, it’s an incredibly small portion of a huge  global social network. There are millions of Facebook users out there that are ready to interact with brands and small businesses- if you know what you’re doing.

Taking on from the very idea of what social media is, I think less focus needs to be placed on the small percentage of Facebook profiles that are fake, and a larger focus on how we can keep creating content that is relevant and interesting to Facebook users. I think many will disagree, but this is just my two cents.

-Bryan Nagy