You cannot be the biggest social networking website in the world without a few million fake profiles. Facebook has reported in its 10-K annual report that the site was home to 76 million fake accounts last year.

In the report filed with the US Securities & Exchange Commission on Friday, Facebook revealed that out of the 1.06 billion user accounts on its site, around 76 million of them were fake in one way or the other. According to the report filed by Facebook, it classifies these bogus accounts in three categories – duplicate accounts, misclassified accounts and undesirable accounts.

The numbers of our monthly active users (MAUs), daily active users (DAUs), mobile MAUs, and average revenue per user (ARPU) are calculated using internal company data based on the activity of user accounts,” explains the report. “While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user base for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring usage of our products across large online and mobile populations around the world.

Scammers' galore

Fake profiles galore

Facebook estimates that users who maintain more than one account, or a duplicate account in violation of the site’s Terms of Services, represent a whopping 53 million accounts, or 5 percent of users worldwide in its MAU numbers as of Decmber 31, 2012. The company also notes that there are undesirable accounts that indulge in activities such as spamming on Facebook that add up to 9.5 million or 0.9 percent of its worldwide MAUs.

Here’s a shocker for Facebook addicts who’ve made pages for their pets: it is in violation of Facebook’s Terms of Services. The company calls such profiles “user-misclassified” in addition to profile pages for businesses and estimate that such profiles made up for a large 14 million or 1.3 percent of worldwide MAUs as of December. Facebook explains that businesses and non-human entities like pets are permitted to have pages but not profiles.

Facebook said that it has been trying to curb such profiles. “We are continually seeking to improve our ability to identify duplicate or false accounts and estimate the total number of such accounts, and such estimates may change due to improvements or changes in our methodology,” the company said in its report.

According to Facebook estimates, approximately 75 million accounts are fake in this quarter. It’s still a large drop since August, when the company had pegged the number to 83.09 million. The report marked a huge leap from the number of fake accounts that Facebook made public in March -–between 42.25 million and 50.70 million. The low numbers in March could be because Facebook had a different way of calculating fake profiles. It had only two categories – duplicate users and false users.

These figures though now make a huge difference since Facebook officially hit the figure of one billion active users in September last year. Facebook has been taking stringent measures to separate spam and fake profiles on the site and the results have begun to pay off in this quarter. Here’s hoping the first quarterly report of this year finds Facebook with lesser spammers and fake pet profiles.

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