As many as half of Facebook’s two billion accounts are fake or duplicates, according to a new report from a former classmate of CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He has highlighted how the fakes defraud users, advertisers and investors alike.
Rocked by a major privacy scandal last year, Facebook has been trying to create an image of a company with high community standards, striving to curb the illicit behavior of users. But the company may be deliberately understating the amount of fake accounts, a new report says.
The firm’s own quarterly investment reports reveal that the its much-vaunted account base, which is supposedly has over 2 billion monthly active users, is packed with fake accounts communicating with just enough randomness to trick the social network’s algorithms, according to Zuckerberg’s former classmate at Harvard, Aaron Greenspan.
Greenspan claimed that he had originally come up with the idea for Facebook and worked on the future network, before Zuckerberg eventually founded the company. That claim was the basis of the trademark dispute between Facebook and Greenspan’s company, Think Computer Corporation, settled in 2009.
In a report, published by his legal data nonprofit PlainSite, Greenspan alleges that Facebook “has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50 percent of its network.”
The fake accounts are particularly dangerous because they “often defraud other users on Facebook, through scams, fake news, extortion, and other forms of deception” and often “involve governments,” he writes.
He further accused the company of “selling” ads to “hundreds of millions of phantom buyers – users who do not actually exist.”