Fake Accounts on Facebook

More than 100 million active users in India and more than 1.23 billion users across the globe make Facebook the largest social media platform. Extensively used both for professional and personal purposes, Facebook has innumerable fake accounts. Officially the number of duplicate accounts is more than 100 million and that of undesirable accounts is 5 to 15 million. The share of emerging markets like India in the fake accounts is comparatively larger. As per official Facebook data, approximately 4.3% to 7.9% out of the total the Monthly Active User (MAUs) of Facebook in 2013 represents duplicate accounts. In a recent update Facebook has clarified that emerging markets like India and Turkey have more number of false or duplicate account as compared with other countries.

Facebook is facing a problem of fake or duplicate accounts, undesirable accounts and misclassified accounts.

A person having more than one account under his or her name is considered as a duplicate account. Though Facebook has imposed a limit to create just one account per person but the number is increasing. Creating a duplicate account is the violation of Facebook’s terms of service. To keep a check on this, the social media site shows a warning alert for accounts which seem fake to Facebook. Also it asks users to verify the account with mobile number or it requires submitting the individual’s driver’s license copy.

Undesirable accounts are those which are likely to spew malicious links and content. These clearly violate the terms and conditions of Facebook. FB keeps a regular check on these pages by analyzing the activity of the account such as number and frequency of comments, wall action and so on.

Then there are the user misclassified accounts which are created by users for company, business, organisation or non-human identity like pet. The worldwide percentage of misclassified accounts out of Monthly Active Users is approximately between 0.8% and 2.1%. Instead of creating such accounts, Facebook has a provision to create page that can be associated with unique personal profile.

Such a high number of fake, undesirable and duplicate accounts poses a security threat and gives an entry to cyber crime.

Facebook has given guidelines to detect the fake account by checking photos, status updates, recent activities, friend list, about link, and birth date of a user. If the person has uploaded just one or two pictures, updated a year ago, friends list is full of people from opposite gender, almost negligible interaction, then it is possibly a fake Facebook account.

Facebook is now a public company, and hence it has to reveal lots of data. Moreover, revenue from advertising forms 83% of the total revenue of the company, and thus identification and getting rid of such accounts is utmost importance. To generate revenue from advertising Facebook must know its users, their interests, etc. In case a person has six profiles and logged in from different accounts then from advertising point of view it is of no use to the company. More the number of fake accounts lesser will be the revenue. Thus all false, duplicate, undesirable and misclassified accounts can actually bring down the business.

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