More than 50 percent of Facebook users are fake according to a report

“Facebook has been lying to the public about the scale of its problem with fake accounts, which likely exceed 50% of its network. Its official metrics—many of which it has stopped reporting quarterly—are self-contradictory and even farcical. The company has lost control of its own product.”

50 Percent Of Facebook Users Are FakeIt is widely accepted that a large portion of accounts on Facebook are fake, and our position is that a large potion of advertisement budget spent on Facebook is worthless because it gets consumed by click-fraud farms. But the problem may be bigger than we thought. Following Facebook’s horrible 2018 year, a report released on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 suggests as many as half of Facebook’s two billion accounts are fake or duplicates.

According to Aaron Greenspan, the platform’s measurement of its user base isn’t—and will never be—precise enough. Therefore, the metrics they report are overestimated.

The report also comes with a disclosure that reads: “Aaron Greenspan owns FB put options in his personal capacity. He entered into a confidential settlement with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, Inc. in 2009.”

The fake accounts are particularly dangerous because they “often defraud other users on Facebook, through scams, fake news, extortion, and other forms of deception” and often “involve governments,” he writes.

He further accused the company of “selling” ads to “hundreds of millions of phantom buyers – users who do not actually exist.”

How can any social media company verify a “real identity” from a fake identity? The only way to do so is to institute a process much like opening an online bank account, a process that requires some form of deeper identification.

If you use Facebook at all, you have most likely received a friend request from someone you don’t know. If you research that user account, chances are you will find it is an account that has few if any photos posted, few posts, and very little engagement on any content on that user’s wall. It is a fake account. Fake accounts are big business, and Facebook is not doing enough to stop the proliferation of fake accounts on its platform.

In future blog posts I will dive into specific examples of why advertising on Facebook can be a complete waste of money, including an example of promoting a video on Facebook that generated over 40,000 views but did not result in a single phone call. This led to a very interesting discovery of how Facebook counts “views”, resulting in view counts that are exponentially inflated.

Click Farm for Advertisement Fraud
Click Farm for Advertisement Fraud

I believe Facebook can not be fixed, at least not without new senior management in place. A new social media platform is needed that demands arduous verification and constantly monitors its user base to eliminate cloned and fake accounts. The number of “real” accounts in such a network would be a fraction of what Facebook reports its user base is, but users could actually trust that new platform. Advertisers would be able to trust that a large percentage of their advertising dollars are being consumed by click-fraud farms.

Category : BriteWire Blog

The Rise Of Online Privacy

The Rise Of Online PrivacyAfter a never-ending erosion of online privacy via companies tracking everything users do online, the trend seems to be reversing direction and users are being given the tools they need to take back some control over how their online activities are tracked.

If you hate searching for a product on one site and then seeing ads for that product on every other site you visit, you are not alone. A few leading technology companies have learned that protecting their customers is good for business, and help is on the way. Web browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Brave are now blocking this type of tracking by default.

Companies that profit by harvesting user’s online profiles are upset about these changes, claiming it’s “bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love.” These companies are also upset at the rapid rise of Ad Blockers in web browsers. On several websites I operate, over 50% of users are visiting the website with browsers that use Ad Blockers.

Two ways companies are giving control of privacy back to users is through blocking cross-site tracking, and fighting browser fingerprinting.

What Is Cross-Site Tracking?

Cross-site tracking refers to companies collecting a user’s browsing data across multiple websites. When you browse from site to site, you’re often followed by tracking mechanisms that collect data on what websites you have visited, what pages you visited, what searches you performed, etc.

What Is Browser Fingerprinting?

Browser Fingerprinting is an incredibly accurate method of identifying unique browsers and tracking their online activity even when cookies are disabled. Browser Fingerprinting works by building a unique “signature” of your device based on identification points like IP Adress, Web Browser, Screen Resolution, Plugins enabled, etc. This type of fingerprinting works even if you clear your cookies.

Behind the scene, the companies that are tracking your online activity are building in-depth profiles of who you are, and what your interests are… including some very private information. On the surface this may seem benign or beneficial to users. However, Facebook’s repeated privacy scandals have revealed how companies can exploit this user information.

How Users Can Take Back Some Control?

Apple has taken a leadership position in protecting user privacy. Apple has implemented new features in Safari called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention”.

Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention works to prevent cross-site tracking. Safari will prevent tracking mechanisms from companies like Facebook, Google, and advertising networks from loading on websites until you explicitly click them. If you want to use Facebook features on a website, you’ll get a prompt asking if you want to access your cookies and website data. If you don’t allow that access, Facebook won’t be able to track your browsing activities online, even if you’re signed into Facebook while browsing.

Safari’s new restrictions will make it much more difficult for websites to uniquely identify you using Browser Fingerprinting.

Starting with version 65 of Firefox blocking Cross-Site Tracking and Browser Fingerprinting is enabled by default.

And of course there is my favorite web browser Brave. Brave is an open source web browser that blocks advertisements, tracking pixels, and tracking cookies by default.

It is good that a cross-platform browsers like Firefox and Brave implement these features, because it is unlikely that Google Chrome is going to do anything that potentially hurts ad revenue any time soon. However, even Google Chrome has the ability to send a “Do Not Track” request if you go into its Advanced Privacy & Security Settings and you can install ad-blocking plugins for Google Chrome.

While Duck Duck Go’s Traffic Growth (an online search alternative that respects a users right to privacy) probably doesn’t concern Google much at this point, if they start losing web browser market share they may be forced to address user’s concerns over the data they are collecting and how they are using it.

Category : BriteWire Blog