Facebook's reported user numbers appear to me to be off by a country mile. Multiple user accounts seem to be chronic. Moreover, besides run-of-the-mill fakes and duplicates, Facebook's identity-theft-enabling business model is, in my opinion, a disgrace for any U.S. public company. Yet Facebook's prospectus and 10Qs for the periods ending June 30, 2012, and September 30, 2012, make no mention of the words: imposter, impersonator, or identity theft.
In the prospectus for its May 2012 IPO, Facebook "estimated" fraud at 5-6 percent of user accounts. (Fraud for the purposes of this report is defined as a user who is not what the user pretends to be, which may or may not have legal ramifications.) This estimate appears much too low to me. Later, in its 10Q filing for the period ending June 30, 2012, Facebook "estimated" 8.7 percent fakes on a then reported even higher user base. This updated estimate also appears much too low to me. Based on my unscientific survey of 50 U.S. Facebook users and further publicly reported anecdotal evidence, Facebook's prospectus's representation of fakes may be off by a factor of ten.
While my estimates are unscientific, so are Facebook's. But the discrepancy between Facebook's representations and what I've been able to discern is so great that it merits further study. To get a more scientific estimate, an independent third party, perhaps the SEC, might do a proper poll of a broad cross-section of Facebook's U.S. user base.
But isn't Fido a legitimate user? Didn't you hear -- dogs and cats can read now! But more importantly, people who have never used Facebook magically appear there all the time too. Janet has some personal experience with this (read the link for more); the essence of it is that anyone can sign up as anyone and if you discover such a bogus profile you must prove you're real to get it removed while the fraudster needed to prove nothing to open it.
Isn't that special?
Last month, while wasting a few moments on Facebook, my pal Brendan O’Malley was surprised to see that his old friend Alex Gomez had “liked” Discover. This was surprising not only because Alex hated mega-corporations but even more so because Alex had passed away six months earlier.
The Facebook “like” is dated Nov. 1, which is strange since Alex “passed [away] around March 26 or March 27,” O’Malley told me. Worse, O’Malley says the like was “quite offensive” since his friend “hated corporate bull****.”
What's important about this? Plenty. Facebook presents you with inserts on your timeline when you browse that allege that your "friends" had liked something -- and thus you should look at it.
This posting claims that Facebook is fabricating the "likes", since the person in question was deceased when the "like" occurred!
Now consider this -- how many of you out there who use Facebook would think the question one of your friends who the site claims "liked" some company or their product? Most would not, right?
An allegation does not proof make, but this certainly smells bad....
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