Facebook said in its Form 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that duplicate accounts may have made up between 4.3 percent and 7.9 percent of its worldwide monthly active users in 2013, and that fake profiles that were misclassified by users may have represented 0.8 percent to 2.1 percent of MAUs, while undesirable accounts possibly comprised 0.4 percent to 2.1 percent. The social network also addressed its decline in teen usage.
The social network wrote in its Form 10-K o n the topic of possible inaccuracies in its MAUs and daily active users:
The numbers for our key metrics — which include our DAUs, mobile DAUs, MAUs, mobile MAUs, and average revenue per user, as well as certain other metrics such as mobile-only DAUs and mobile-only MAUs — are calculated using internal company data based on the activity of user accounts. 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.
For example, there may be individuals who maintain one or more Facebook accounts in violation of our terms of service. We estimate, for example, that “duplicate” accounts (an account that a user maintains in addition to his or her principal account) may have represented between approximately 4.3 percent and 7.9 percent of our worldwide MAUs in 2013. We also seek to identify “false” accounts, which we divide into two categories: user-misclassified accounts, where users have created personal profiles for a business, organization, or non-human entity such as a pet (such entities are permitted on Facebook using a page rather than a personal profile under our terms of service); and undesirable accounts, which represent user profiles that we determine are intended to be used for purposes that violate our terms of service, such as spamming.
In 2013, for example, we estimate that user-misclassified accounts may have represented between approximately 0.8 percent and 2.1 percent of our worldwide MAUs, and undesirable accounts may have represented between approximately 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent of our worldwide MAUs.
We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets, such as the U.S. or U.K., and higher in developing markets such as India and Turkey. However, these estimates are based on an internal review of a limited sample of accounts, and we apply significant judgment in making this determination, such as identifying names that appear to be fake or other behavior that appears inauthentic to the reviewers. As such, our estimation of duplicate or false accounts may not accurately represent the actual number of such accounts.
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. Due to inherent variability in such estimates at particular dates of measurement, we disclose these estimates as a range over a recent period.
And on the oft-reported slippage in teen users of the social network, Facebook said in its Form 10-K:
Our data limitations may affect our understanding of certain details of our business. For example, while user-provided data indicate a decline in usage among younger users, these age data is unreliable because a disproportionate number of our younger users register with inaccurate ages.
In the third quarter of 2013, we worked with third parties to develop models to more accurately analyze user data by age in the U.S. These models suggested that usage by U.S. teens overall was stable, but that DAUs among younger U.S. teens had declined. The data and models we are using are not precise, and our understanding of usage by age group may not be complete.
Readers: Are you surprised by the percentages of duplicate or fake accounts that may exist on Facebook?
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