Why Facebook's Battle Against Fake Social Media Accounts is Going Worse Than You Think

The stats that major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter give with regards to the number of fake profiles and accounts that they have recently removed seem to get increasingly ridiculous year by year. Recently Facebook announced that it deleted an astonishing 4.5 billion fake accounts in the first nine months of 2020 alone, while in 2019, 5.4 billion fake accounts were revmoved from the platform. In spite of the fact that this is the case, plenty of clearly fake or dangerous accounts aren’t just operating on these social media platforms, they’re actually managing to thrive.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the numbers that Facebook publishes with regards to the number of accounts that it deletes isn’t quite as accurate as you might think. This isn’t to say that Facebook is lying, of course. It just means that Facebook has decided on a very loose definition of what it considers deleting a fake profile, at least as far as its public facing statistics are concerned.

The bulk of the billions upon billions of fake accounts that Facebook deletes are not real people trying to pretend to be someone else. Rather, they are bots that are generally automatically created en masse to try and spam people. Some malicious actors often create millions of accounts to try and game the system, and Facebook is pretty good at finding and deleting these accounts soon after they are made if not before they get made in the first place.

This explains a lot when it comes to these figures. After all, the thought of 60% of the world’s population creating fake accounts every year is pretty incredible, and this explanation makes a lot more sense. Former top Facebook executive Alex Stamos has said that Facebook doesn’t even use its public facing numbers internally, because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up distracting it from the real problem that it’s facing: fake accounts made by real people.

These are the ones that can do the most damage, yet Facebook really struggles to find such accounts. This is partly due to the reason that it’s platform is absolutely massive and finding a fake account made by a real person makes finding a needle in a haystack seem like a piece of cake. Facebook has often turned to users to swiftly report accounts, but this has barely made a dent in the problem since it’s still so prevalent and many users are suffering as a result of the fact that this is the case.

Many are starting to say that the battle against fake social media profiles is actually impossible to win. The scale of Facebook’s platform makes it pretty easy for a fake account to be made and hide in plain site. Facebook is definitely guilty of inflating its numbers to make itself seem a lot more proactive and efficient than it actually is, and people need to take note of this lest they assume that Facebook is becoming safe due to these stats. Deleting bot accounts is easy. It’s the real people making fake profiles that truly matter, and this is what Facebook has failed to get all that great at.

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