Problems are continuing to mount for Facebook, as the social media giant continues to suffer its first sustained run of adverse events since launching in 2004.
According to company filings published this week, 8.7% of its active accounts are illegitimate, being either duplicate profiles, user-misclassified (eg businesses or pets) or “undesirable” – eg, malicious. In addition, scepticism has increased over the effectiveness of advertising on the site, with a recent BBC-led investigation revealing extremely strange distributions of new “likes” and click-throughs from adverts – many of which appear to come from fake users. Some have speculated that Facebook itself is creating these fakes in order to drive up advertising costs, although there is no evidence for this at present.
Furthermore, many users are still smarting from the introduction of payment to ensure that every message they issue reaches the people who have “friended” them. Posts or status messages do not reach every user unless they are paying customers, even though such messages have been explicitly requested.
All of this has undoubtedly flowed from the pressure for Facebook to turn promise into profit, following its stock-market flotation in May. However, these revelations and customer gripes events have dealt a blow to its share price, which has dropped from $38 at inception to $20.04.
Facebook has tried to generate some good news with the green-friendly announcement that it will relocate many of its data centres to sites with easy access to carbon-free energy sources – with an aim of 25% total green energy use across the firm by 2015. Perhaps by then, though, its fake accounts will have learned how to communicate with each other, and we’ll all be doomed anyway…