Facebook still has 76.3 million ‘fake’ users


Facebook has made significant progress in combatting its spam problem, but the social network is still stuffed with “fake” accounts.

According to Facebook’s quarterly earnings report, which it released Wednesday, the number of “undesirable” (read: spam) accounts has dropped to just 0.9 percent of the total number of monthly active users (MAUs), which currently clocks in at about 1.06 billion. Whip out your calculator, and you’ll see that equals about 9.5 million, compared to the 15.1 million spam accounts that were up in running back in June 2012.

An “undesirable” Facebook user is any account that is “intended to be used for purposes that violate our terms of service, such as spamming,” writes Facebook. But those aren’t the only accounts Facebook discounts from its official total. Duplicate accounts – “an account that a user maintains in addition to his or her principal account” – make up roughly five percent of Facebook worldwide MAUs, or about 53 million accounts. And about 1.3 percent of MAUs, or a little under 13.8 million accounts, are “mischaracterized” accounts, such as personal accounts people have made for their pets, which Facebook says should actually be Pages.

In other words, the total number of Facebook users that aren’t “real people” is about 72.5 million, give or take. The company says its numbers are based on a relatively small sample of accounts, and could be wrong. Still, it represents a drop of about 6.7 million since August.

The deletion of spam accounts isn’t Facebook’s only weapon on this battle front. At the beginning of June, the company announced a so-called “10-second rule,” which requires users to view a piece of content on the Web for at least 10 seconds before that piece of content, like an article or a video, may be shared on the social network. The idea is to prevent (or at least slow down) automated spamming of content.

In December, Facebook further took on spammers with new inbox filtering options, including a “strict” filter that prevents any messages from showing up in your standard inbox (as opposed to the “other” inbox) that aren’t from one of your friends.