Skip to main content

83 million Facebook accounts are fakes and dupes

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

(CNN) -- 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."

Facebook inspires status envy

How $4 cows make Facebook millions
Facebook not a 'short-term bet'

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.

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.

Face it, Facebook: Sometimes you suck

"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

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT