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Technology

Pippa Middleton shows Facebook’s problem with fake accounts

Here’s the evidence, taken just now from Facebook:

Facebook know there’s been a long-running issue with numerous repeated fake Pippa Middleton accounts as their presence and Facebook’s speed at removing them is something I’ve tracked in the past, having first become interested in the issue after helping out with a splurge of fake Nick Clegg accounts.

In the Nick Clegg case, fake accounts remained long after Facebook had been told about them and it took repeated contacts with Facebook before the creation of new fake Clegg accounts was got under control.

In the Pippa Middleton case, if for no other reason that the test reports I made early last year, Facebook has known about the problem of numerous fake accounts for a long time. Back then it took weeks to remove fake accounts when reported and those unreported were left untouched. As I wrote back then:

Even when it should be fairly obvious to Facebook that there’s a widespread issue of fake profiles or pages for a person, Facebook only removes the specific ones you’ve reported. It takes (in my experience at least) quite a lot of work to get someone at Facebook to up the ante and both do a proactive search for fakes and to curb the creation of new fakes. That was done in at least one case I was involved with, but as Pippa Middleton shows it isn’t done nearly as widely as it could be.

As you can see from the screenshot, that’s still very much the case. Which means the sort of bland optimism in this comment from a Facebook spokesperson does not really reflect what you actually find on Facebook:

If we find fake accounts, we disable them immediately.

If you’ve really disabled all the fake Pippa Middleton accounts you’ve found, then you’ve not exactly looked hard to find them Facebook.

UPDATE: Facebook estimates it has over 83 million ‘fake’ accounts. Its definition of fakes includes innocent duplicates and the like, leaving around 1.5% of its accounts as ‘undesirable’.

 

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