83 million Facebook accounts are fakes and dupes

Facebook profiles for non-humans, such as companies or pets, violate the social network's terms of service.

Story highlights

  • Fake and duplicate profiles and spam accounts make up 8.7% of Facebook active pages
  • Facebook is always looking for and disabling these types of accounts
  • Some 14.3 million undesirable accounts have been created for purposes like spamming

If you're using a fake name on your Facebook account, maintaining a personal profile for your beloved pet or have a second profile you use just for logging in to other sites, you have one of the 83.09 million fake accounts Facebook wants to disable.

In an updated regulatory filing released Wednesday, the social media company said that 8.7 percent of its 955 million monthly active users worldwide are actually duplicate or false accounts.

"On Facebook we have a really large commitment in general to finding and disabling false accounts," Facebook's chief security officer Joe Sullivan told CNN in a recent interview. "Our entire platform is based on people using their real identities."

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So what are those 83 million undesired accounts doing? They're a mixture of innocent and malicious, and Facebook has divvied them up into three categories: duplicate accounts, misclassified accounts and "undesirable" accounts.

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Duplicate accounts make up 4.8% (45.8 million) of Facebook's total active member tally. According to the network's terms of service, users are not allowed to have more than one Facebook personal account or make accounts on behalf of other people. Parents creating Facebook accounts for their young kids are violating two rules, since people under 13 are not allowed to have Facebook profiles.

Misclassified accounts are personal profiles that have been made for companies, groups or pets. Those types of profiles (22.9 million) are allowed on Facebook, but they need to be created as Pages. Facebook estimates that 2.4% of its active accounts are these non-human personal accounts. These accounts can be converted into approved pages without losing information. Pets such as Boo, the self-anointed "world's cutest dog," are typically classified as Public Figures.

    The third group is the smallest -- just 1.5% of all active accounts -- but most troublesome. There are 14.3 million undesirable accounts that Facebook believes have been created specifically for purposes that violate the companies terms, like spamming.

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    "We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey," the company said in the filing. The tallies were based on an internal sampling of accounts done by reviewers, and Facebook says the numbers may represent the actual number.

    Facebook disables any false accounts it finds, and while it wipes all the information associated with the name from public view, it doesn't delete the account from its servers "for safety and security" reasons. The disabled account goes into a sort of Facebook limbo, where the owner of the account can't get their hands on any of the content -- photos, posts, videos -- not even by requesting a copy of the data, according to Facebook.

    If Facebook does shut down your account, it says you can't create a new one without permission from the company.

    Complete coverage: Facebook

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