83 Million Accounts Doomed to Facebook Limbo

facebook limbo

Did you buy Facebook likes from third party websites? Then you are most likely to experience a drastic decrease in your Facebook fan-base in the near future.

Facebook finally acknowledged that it has problems, after many complaints that the network was cluttered with fake accounts, a considerable number of which were used for spam. The move also follows recent complaints by marketers and social media experts, who were worried that their paid Facebook advertising campaigns were not as effective as projected.

A concrete example was offered by Rory Cellan-Jones’ fake bagel company – the VirtualBagel – which was advertised on Facebook last month, to measure impact and value of Facebook advertising. The journalist found that his Facebook ads were shown to some obscure users, some whose profiles seemed to be fake.

Many other experts raised questions about the real value behind Facebook ads, and most concluded that, because of the fake Facebook accounts cluttering the network, it was hard to measure ROI.

The amount of fake or duplicate accounts on Facebook goes up to 8.7 percent of its 955 million monthly active users. Facebook sees no option but to disable these accounts.

The move will generate a wave of protests, since about 2.4% (22.9 million) of these accounts are personal profiles made for companies, groups or pets. Facebook allows this type of profiles only as Pages – unfortunately not all users are savy enough to understand the difference, and many of them will ignore the warning now, considering their accounts “legit.”

Surprisingly, Facebook only identified 14.3 million spam accounts, which sums for only 1.5% of all active accounts on the network. Duplicates (accounts owned by the same person) sum 4.8% (45.8 million).

What happens next? Facebook will obviously disable these accounts, hiding them from public view. They will, however, remain on its servers, securely locked from outside access. The owners of these accounts will not be able to access their data, and what’s even worse, they will not be returned the data, not even by requesting a copy. Owners whose accounts will end up lingering in Facebook’s limbo can only create new accounts with express permission from the company.

Facebook seems a bit overzealous with these measures. Any mistakes can turn into a PR nightmare of proportions for the company. While getting rid of dupes and spam users is acceptable, killing 22.9 million accounts created by people who don’t understand social media the way they should is a bit extreme. These people have engaged communities with quality content, they participate in genuine conversations, and the content posted is the result of hard work and dedication. Facebook should consider giving them a fair warning directly, and allowing them enough time to create appropriate Pages. Question remains: how will they transfer their existing communities to a Page? Do you know anyone who will be hit by this measure?

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