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Facebook estimates 5 or 6 percent of total users are fake accounts

Facebook says 5 to 6 percent of its 845 million monthly active users could be false or duplicate accounts, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This means the company estimates between 42 and 50 million accounts are illegitimate. In an updated filing for an initial public offering, Facebook says the estimate is based on a limited sample, of which it looked at names and behavior to determine authenticity. It did not reveal how many million accounts it has shut down upon discovering that they are fake or otherwise in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

As the social network mentioned a February filing, metrics could also be affected by some mobile applications that automatically contact Facebook servers even if users do not take any action. The company estimates less than 5 percent of its 483 million daily active users are the result of this type of automatic mobile activity. It says this issue has less of an effect on its monthly active user numbers.

Facebook has typically been conservative in reporting how many users it has, focusing on daily and monthly actives rather than total members, which Google+ has tried to tout. It is important for Facebook to continue to develop ways to eliminate fake accounts and prevent them from affecting the experience of actual users.

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