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8.7% of Facebook members don’t have faces

Osama on FacebookFacebook has revealed that 8.7% of its user accounts are either fake or not legitimate. Now that it is a public company with analysts nipping at its heels, Facebook is required to release key information that could impact its value, so we now get to hear some news from the horse’s mouth at a time when there have been criticisms of the Facebook advertising model.

The 8.7% number is a large proportion of the 955 million active accounts, but it does not mean there are 83 million fakes. Facebook says 2.4% of its accounts are “user-misclassified”, which means business profiles or pet profiles. The Facebook rules state that a profile must be a real person – if you want to set up a Facebook account for your business, you have to create a page.

Many businesses have created personal profiles in their business name, often as a way of keeping their own personal life separate from their business life. (I wrote a post on this for Vertical Leap yesterday). Facebook is clear, though, that you cannot create a person profile in the name of a company or a club – however, Facebook is full of people who do not read the rules, and it has such a large user base that Facebook doesn’t enforce its rules very often. Consequently, the network is full of rule breakers who are left to carry on.

The risk for a business is that you might spend months building up a following on Facebook for your profile in your business name only to find that Facebook one day turns off the account. Stick to the rules: personal profiles are for real people, for anything else, create a page or a group.

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