29 Jan 2019
Mark Zuckerberg Denies Reports of False Facebook Accounts
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is firing back at reports by a former Harvard classmate that as many as 50 percent of the accounts on the social media website are fake. Aaron Greenspan, a classmate of Zuckerberg, has provided a 70+ page study asserting that as many as half of the 2.2 user accounts on Facebook are fake, and assertion that the company and its founder dismiss as “unequivocally wrong.”
In his report, entitled “Reality Check,” Greenspan claimed that Facebook has greatly inflated the number of user accounts across the globe since 2004. He also alleges that he is the true founder of the original Facebook idea and was paid a settlement in 2009 to dispatch the claim.
In the report, Greenspan claims, “Facebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50 percent of its network.”
To support his claims, Greenspan points to the quarterly numbers published by Facebook. “Its official metrics – many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly – are self-contradictory and even farcical.”
In reviewing the reports provided by Facebook, Greenspan explains that the number of duplicate accounts and those that have been misclassified or are considered undesirable accounts has been steadily rising over the last several years. This, according to the quarterly earnings results provided by the company itself.
According to the second quarter report in 2017, Facebook recognized that 6% of accounts globally were a secondary account for a person who already had a principal account with the social networking site. This can include such things as a website for their pet or for the purposes of providing spam information.
In the last quarter of 2017, Facebook showed that the company took action against 32.6 percent of user accounts which they considered to be “fake.” That number rose in the third quarter of 2018 to 33.2 percent.
A Company Denial
The numbers appear to be confusing to many, but Facebook denies the allegations of Greenspan, explaining that he is mischaracterizing the information provided. “This is unequivocally wrong and responsible reporting means reporting facts, even if it’s about fake accounts,” a Facebook spokesperson explain in a statement to the Daily Mail.
In a filing provided to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook estimated that somewhere between three and four percent of the user accounts were fraudulent or fake, far lower than the estimate Greenspan is providing.
In addition, the validity of Greenspan’s claims can be questioned as he acknowledges in his own report that there is a certain amount of bias he has towards the company. Claiming that he was the original creator of the idea of Facebook, Greenspan has long been a critic of the social networking site, and explains that his personal bias may play a role in the report he provided.
Since the 2016 election, Zuckerberg has made the elimination of fake accounts a priority at Facebook. Many have claimed that Russians created a number of Facebook accounts, providing fake information that they claim influenced the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. These claims have been widely debunked however.
The social networking giant acknowledges that $100,000 was spent by foreign entities, including some in Russia, in an attempt to influence the presidential election. However, the vast majority of these advertisements were either not seen until after the election was over or were seen by less than a thousand people.
This is not stopped criticism of the company, however. Many within the media and the federal government have pushed Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives to make dramatic changes to ensure that foreign influence over future elections would be muted. Greenspan’s assertions seem to be drawing into question how effective their strategies are.