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Facebook in the record books? Add an asterisk.

Facebook is well on its way to a billion users. But a sizable percentage of its membership consists of spammers, duplicates, and misclassified accounts, Facebook disclosed today. 

By Matthew Shaer / August 2, 2012

Facebook has upwards of 950 million users. But how many are real?



As of the end of June, there were more than 950 million active users on Facebook

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But not all of those users are real, Facebook disclosed in a public filing this week. According to Facebook, 8.7 percent of Facebook accounts – a whopping 83 million profiles – are bots, fakes, or otherwise illegitimate. Facebook breaks down the numbers like this: 1.5 percent are bots or spammers. 4.8 percent are duplicates. And 2.4 percent are misclassified – businesses registered as people, for instance. 

As John P. Mello Jr. of PC World notes, the numbers mark a "substantial increase over figures released by the company in March. Then it estimated that from five to six percent, or 42.25 million to 50.70 million, of 845 million monthly active accounts were bogus," Mello adds. Which is to be expected. The more Facebook grows – it is widely expected to hit the one billion user mark by the end of 2012 – the more chaff it acquires. 

"We are continually seeking to improve our ability to identify duplicate or false accounts and estimate the total number of such accounts, and such estimates may be affected by improvements or changes in our methodology," Facebook wrote. Interestingly, Facebook estimated that "undesirable accounts" were "meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey." 

After months of speculation, Facebook went public in May. Late last month, in its first-ever earnings report, Facebook posted a $157 million loss in the second quarter of 2012. Still, its revenue figures exceeded the expectations of many analysts. 


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