November 13, 2012

Facebook's Fake Faces Can Damage Your Business's Image


If you're using a fake name on your Facebook account, you are one of the 83.09 million fake accounts Facebook wants to disable. In an updated regulatory filing, the social media company said that 8.7 percent of its 955 million active users worldwide are duplicate or false accounts.

Fakery is everywhere on the Internet such as with Twitter, which allows pseudonyms, and has been used to spread false rumors. Gartner estimates that less than four percent of all social media interactions are false today and that figure may rise to over 10 percent by 2014.

What are those 83 million accounts doing exactly? Well, according to CNN, these fake accounts can be innocent or malicious duplicate accounts, misclassified accounts and undesirable accounts. Duplicate accounts make up 45.8 million of Facebook's total active members. There are 22.9 million misclassified accounts, personal profiles made for companies, groups or pets, which are allowed on Facebook, but they need to be created as pages. Facebook estimates that 2.4 percent of its active accounts are these non-human personal accounts. There are also 14.3 million undesirable accounts that Facebook believes have been created for purposes that violate the companies terms, like spamming.

Unfortunately, businesses worldwide are falling victim to the millions of fake accounts, as they are damaging the reputations of numerous businesses across the country.

One organization, Gaston Memorial Hospital, encourages healthy eating and tips on avoiding injuries at Zumba classes on its Facebook page. But, in October, another Facebook page for the hospital was created posting denunciations of President Obama, the New York Times reported.

Hospital officials posted on their real Facebook page, “We apologize for any confusion and appreciate the support of our followers.”Just 11 days later, the page was deactivated.


 

 

Image via New York Times



This problem comes in many shapes as false profiles are so easy to create and they persuade users into friending them, while fake friends and likes are sold on the Web and directed at those who want to enhance their image. Fake coupons can also appear on Facebook newsfeeds, aimed at tricking the unwitting into revealing personal information.

For the world’s largest social network, fakery is a huge problem because it questions the basic premise of what Facebook stands for. The social media company has worked hard to distinguish itself as a place for real identity on the Web.

The company stated, “Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. The name you use should be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, student ID, etc.”

False “likes” damage the trust of advertisers, who want clicks from real people they can sell to and whom Facebook relies on to make money.

Facebook says it has always taken the problem seriously, and has stepped up efforts as of late. "On Facebook we have a really large commitment in general to finding and disabling false accounts," Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan recently told CNN. "Our entire platform is based on people using their real identities."

Sullivan said that since August, the company has put a brand new automated system into place to get rid of fake “likes.” Flags are now raised if a user sends out hundreds of friend requests at a time, likes hundreds of pages simultaneously, or posts a link to a site that is contains a virus. Those suspected of being fake accounts are then warned and accounts can be suspended.

In October, Facebook inked new partnerships with antivirus companies, so users can now download free or paid antivirus coverage to guard against malware.




Edited by Jamie Epstein



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