Contentious Report Claims 50% of Facebook Users Likely Fake
A controversial report by PlainSite, a nonprofit group focused on the legal system (and owned by a former classmate of Mark Zuckerberg) has accused Facebook of “lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network.”
According to the report “Reality Check,” released Thursday, more than half of the social media site’s monthly users are almost certainly fake.
Facebook critic and author of the report, Aaron Greenspan – a former Harvard classmate of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg – alleges that the social media giant has no way to accurately measure its true user base (accounts that are matched up to real people) and substantially overestimates the number of real monthly active users.
“The fact of the matter is that Facebook does not now and will not ever have an accurate way to measure its fake account problem,” claims the report.
In 2009, Adweek reported that Facebook and Greenspan reached a confidential settlement over a trademark dispute regarding the term “the Face Book.” Greenspan’s new report, however, alleges substantially more than a possibly stolen name.
Three years later, in 2012, Greenspan also sued Columbia Pictures for failing to include him in the 2010 film The Social Network, but had his case dismissed. He also made his feelings about Zuckerberg known in Thursday’s report, stating: “Mark Zuckerberg is by no objective measure a genius.”
In 2013, Greenspan filed suit against Mark Zuckerberg other tech giants over so-called “money services businesses.”
According to Greenspan, Facebook has attempted to obscure and downplay the actual number of fake accounts and their prevalence by employing “cleverly worded disclaimers” in its official reporting as well as dropping “many” of the important metrics from quarterly reports altogether.
Since the end of 2017, Facebook has deleted at least 2.8 billion fake accounts, which is more that the amount of its monthly active users and more than a half of “all accounts ever created,” Greenspan states.
“This report is completely wrong and not based on any facts or research,” a Facebook spokesperson told RT, adding that the company files its fake account estimates with the Securities and Exchange Commission every quarter. “This is unequivocally wrong and responsible reporting means reporting facts, even if it’s about fake accounts.”
Although in 2017 Facebook admitted that as many as 270 million accounts on its platform could either be fakes or duplicates, that number is still a far cry from what Greenspan claims.
Greenspan argues that despite claims to the contrary, Facebook “does not now and will not ever have an accurate way to measure its fake account problem.”
Whether or not Greenspan’s latest allegations about fake users are accurate, Facebook shares saw a noticeable dip not long after the report was released.
Actually, few can deny that Facebook’s public image has taken a beating following a year of repeated scandals.
In the first six months of 2018 alone, Facebook said it removed around 1.5 billion fake accounts. Last year, the company also reported removing fake accounts linked to either Russia or Iran, and although the numbers were minute on the overall scale, measuring from under 100 to several hundred, the news received wide coverage.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg reiterated that the network – whose model of operations “can feel opaque” and be hard to understand for outsiders, as he wrote in an op-ed for the WSJ on Thursday – has “strong incentive” to protect users’ data and selling off such information is against the company’s business interests.