back to article Facebook claims a third more users in the US than people who exist

Facebook promises advertisers access to more US customers than actually exist. That's according to an investment analyst who had long held that Facebook is misleading the market on what its actual digital reach is, and recommends a "sell" on the social media giant's stock. Facebook has an extensive and sophisticated ad-buying …

  1. Colin Miller

    Dual accounts?

    FB may well have 41 million US 18-24 year old with accounts. Some folks may have two accounts, either from abandoning one (forgotten password, too much bullying on the first account).

    Or some folks may use two accounts. If you are a closeted LGBT person, you may one for your family who you are not out to, and a second one for your real persona.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dual accounts?

      either from abandoning one (forgotten password, too much bullying on the first account).

      I believe the Facebook claim (to the mugs that buy advertising) is that their numbers refer to "active" accounts. So in theory, there shouldn't be that many abandoned accounts. Practice, of course may be different, particularly when there's money to be made.

      But I have no sympathy with advertising buyers. They're supposedly adult enough and intelligent enough to know what they're buying, and what the real returns are to their company. I suspect most don't and are taken for a ride by Facebook, Google and others, but it is only a case of the biter bit. Obviously you and I are still paying if we buy from the companies advertising - but as a meany, I tend to avoid those expensive brands that do a lot of advertising.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ledswinger Re: Dual accounts?

        i pulled a contract at FB a few years ago.

        I was forced to create a FB account.

        When I left, I 'deleted' the account, but in doing so, FB said that they will keep the account around just in case... So while dormant, its still 'active'.

        Then there are accounts like the one I use here. Pseudonyms that have never been associated to a FB account.

        But what happens when you visit a site that runs FB javascript code? And it captures data which is now tracking said pseudonym. Is that not an 'active user'?

        1. Mr Sceptical
          Thumb Down

          Re: @Ledswinger Dual accounts?

          Dunno about the rest of you but I block FB with Privacy Badger / No Script.

          That and utilising FB 'stealth' mode where I haven't used it in a decade....

          Simples.

      2. Philip Virgo

        Re: Dual accounts?

        And the most active accounts are those run by the Botnet Avatars said to account for between 25% and 80% of advertising clicks.- according to whose extrapolated hype you beleive.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Dual accounts?

      I have two Facebook accounts that I can't access, because Facebook decided I didn't exist & so wanted to "verify" me by texting a code to my cell phone. And since the accounts were opened years before using old cell numbers I didn't have access to at the time of Facebooks sudden need to "verify" me, there was no way to "verify" me according to them. (Email apparently was insufficient.) Once stuck in Facebooks logically flawed "verification" quagmire, Facebook has no mechanism to proceed since Facebook has zero customer service. This has happened to me twice over the years. My final solution is to simply point out to all of my friends & relatives that I've owned my own domain since the early 90's, and they can go there to see what I'm up to or to contact me.

      I know quite a few people in the same boat as me. So it's easy to see how Facebook could have more accounts than people.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Dual accounts?

        "Facebook has no mechanism to proceed since Facebook has zero customer service"

        What you mean is that it has no product service. You're not a customer.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Dual accounts?

          My wife, for example, created 5 accounts. None are actually used for anything anymore. In fact, she can't remember the last time she accessed FB ... probably seven or eight years ago. I'm absolutely certain that she's not the only person on the planet with multiple orphaned accounts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Dual accounts?

            The 25-35 group had a massive scale back in activity around that time, since that is around the time it went from basically only college age friends to being opened up to high school kids, then parents & grand-parents.

        2. fobobob

          Re: Dual accounts?

          "What you mean is that it has no product service. "

          It does, just not for the product.

    3. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Dual accounts?

      Tinder

      requires a FB account. But who wants to look like a lame-o by being seen to be on Tinder? No one, hence 2nd FB. Conveniently for FB demographics, age also tends to drop on those...

    4. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: Dual accounts?

      "FB may well have 41 million US 18-24 year old with accounts."

      Of course they don't. Having 41 million accounts created by US 18-24 years olds is *not* having 41 million 18-24 years olds with accounts.

      No idea what point you are trying to make other than the bleedingly obvious and completely irrelevant fact that people can and do create multiple accounts.

      Facebook claim to be able to reach more people in a target group than exist in that group, a claim which is obviously bullshit.

    5. big_D Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Dual accounts?

      And my ex-employer used dummy accounts to run its company page (even though this goes against Facebooks T&Cs). Instead of giving employees admin access to the page, they had to use a second account to manage the page, because paranoia.

    6. DougS Silver badge

      I know several people with two accounts

      They have one for themselves and one for their business - doing stuff like hairstylist, realtor, etc. I can see why you'd want to keep your professional and personal separate if you're a realtor who is probably friend requested by half the people you work with. You don't want to consider them a friend and post your drunken vacation pics for them to see, but on the other hand you want them to feel like they are your friend because you want them to call you when they decide to trade up to another house in 5-10 years.

      I'm sure there are more of my friends that have two accounts that I don't know about. Maybe one has a separate account they use to keep in touch with grandma and the cousins, maybe another is a swinger or something like that and wants to keep those friends separate from their other friends, maybe one has an account just to harass an ex girlfriend he never got over. There's a million reasons people might do this, and I don't see how Facebook could ever stop it unless they required you to show an official government issued ID to them.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: I know several people with two accounts

        @DougS you set up a business page and administrate it separately, but it "has" to be linked to a "real" account.

        If it is a fake account or linked to a fake account, you could lose control of it, if they decide that the main account is fake and lock it / delete it.

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: I know several people with two accounts

          Sounds like a good reason to avoid Facebook corporate accounts. Just look at the potential lawsuits - my employer required me to share all the intimate details of my social life with Facebook in violation of God knows how many human rights and data protection laws.

        2. DougS Silver badge

          @big_D

          you set up a business page and administrate it separately, but it "has" to be linked to a "real" account.

          I'm not talking about pages for businesses, I'm talking about a second personal account so they can have separate friends lists. Sure, Facebook could cut one off if they figure it out, but given the number of 18-24 year old accounts versus the number of them there are, it is pretty obvious this is the rule rather than the exception and what I've observed is just the tip of the iceberg.

      2. rmason Silver badge

        Re: I know several people with two accounts

        I'm 34.

        The vast majority of people I know run more than one entity on FB, be that a person profile or a page or group etc. The wife has bloody loads. Her own, a business page, a fake person account to run the business page so her name is never linked, we have a page to sell things (we are hobbyist breeders of a few exotic animals/reptiles) etc etc etc.

        I've posted above about groups of her mates who maintain multiple profiles each so they can game the sharing/requests thing that most games have inbuilt. One of each game they are currently playing, so their "real" facebook pages aren't full of all that "such and such gifted you this", "and "I passed level 904 and won two pleb-tokens" stuff.

        It's dead common.

    7. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: Dual accounts?

      Here in Thailand, most teens will have about 3 or 4 accounts per year. That's the turnover of their smartphones, the phone get crushed or trashed a way or another. Get a new phone, create a new account because they won't remember the previous one.

      Or the account was hacked because the password was the phone number.

      So there is no way to guess the number of users from the number of accounts.

    8. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Dual accounts?

      Dual accounts is understating it.

      My wife's less intelligent friends are all constantly on FB playing games. They have special profiles just for the gaming so they don't constantly piss off regular users with all the game related requests which you need to send and acknowledge etc to get extra lives, or jewels or coins or whichever vacuous bullshit it is. I think that's very common. They're just engaged in a massive circle-jerk of sending each other requests that mutually benefits both parties in the game.

      People have them for pets, business profiles for their "sticking glitter on glasses business" or their "I can bake cupcakes" business.

      People have separate profiles for going in groups their partners wouldn't approve of, sleeping around, trolling or one of another hundred reasons. Then there's the kids. Hordes and hordes of kids both under, just on and just over the supposed minimum age. All of zero value to facebooks paying clients, the advertisers and the data-buyers.

      *Then* on top of all that you have the bots, fake profiles, like farms etc etc etc. It's probably quite a high percentage of *items* on facebook that have zero value for advertisers.

    9. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Dual accounts?

      If you are a closeted LGBT person, you may one for your family who you are not out to, and a second one for your real persona.

      Indeed, and then all the lesbian groups get plastered with ads from dating sites, match.com is the worst, pestering you to find a boyfriend.

    10. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: Dual accounts?

      If you can find any 18-24 year olds still using Facebook, I'll be bloody surprised! I thought most kids had abandoned Facebook to we old foggies? My 14 year old daughter has no interest in Facebook or Twitter whatsoever, she prefers Snapchat, post it, laugh with her mates. 5 mins later ask them what the post was about and they've probably forgotten and don't care.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Diogenes

    Underage kids and perverts and leos

    Most of the kids in my year 7 classes have FB accounts, eventhough they are under 13. Then there are the fake accounts held by pervs to groom children and the fake accounrs set up by the police to catch saiid pervs. I suspect the underage kids could account for the much larger percentage.

  4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

    Facebook demanded to know my age, and then plastered it all over the place on my birthday.

    So I changed my age to 100 years, as a sort-of 'None-Of-Your-Effin-Business' reaction.

    I tried to change it back after my birthday had passed (once they stop plastering it all over the place) but they then told me that I could only change it one more time. So I didn't.

    So now I'm 104.

    Facebook, meet 'Law of Unintended Consequences'.

    Idiots.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

      Calm down or you'll have a heart attack or stroke at your age.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

        Only the queen only has 2 birthdays. Nobody has more than that.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

          "Only the queen only has 2 birthdays. Nobody has more than that."

          I've had over 70 already.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

            I've had over 70 already.

            Greedy bastard.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

              "Greedy bastard."

              Not at all. But the candles are getting to be a fire hazard.

          2. Esme

            Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

            I've had 78 and I'm 59.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

          Queen Margrethe II has two birthdays? News to me.

          I'd apologize for stepping on your insular prejudices, if I could be arsed.

          1. JimC Silver badge

            Re: insular prejudices

            forums.theregister.co.UK

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: insular prejudices

              Has it escaped your attention that ElReg publishes to a global audience, from global offices? Do you actually think that an URL somehow designates a geographic location these days?

              1. staggers

                Re: insular prejudices

                Yes.

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

            Queen Margrethe II has two birthdays? News to me.

            I'd apologize for stepping on your insular prejudices, if I could be arsed.

            As he is English, and this is a site created and mainly based out of London, with a .co.uk address, his comment is perfectly justified.

            Just as if he was Danish, and the site was called "De Kirkebog", based out of Copenhagen, with a .de address, and he referred to "Margrethe II" as "the queen", he'd also be perfectly justified.

            A valid example of "insular prejudices" would be countries calling their internal games the "world series",

            HTH. HAND.

            https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2005/5/16/114579/-

            1. staggers

              Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

              I think the World Series was created by a newspaper of that name.

              BUT they seem happy to let everyone else think it means the whole planet.

              Or maybe they aren't aware of the confusion in the rest of the world!

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

                The newspaper story is apocryphal at best. In reality, it is just a traditional name left over from turn of the last century advertising hype. The only people who believe that Yanks think of it as truly a "World" series are folks from countries where American baseball isn't played.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

                  To be fair, I live in America and am astonished at how many TV commentators and general pundits refer to the winner of the so-called "World Series" as the world champions. I live part-time in Chicago, and when the Cubs won last year, I saw thousands of T-shirts and baseball caps being sold and worn that said "Cubs - World Champions". The same is true for the superbowl winner.

    2. Andy Non
      Thumb Down

      Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

      I used a fake date of birth and name. Only used facebook to participate in a few special interest hobbyist groups, not to share my life story. Their so called targetted advertising was hopeless. They bypassed my adblocker to show me drivel that wasn't the least bit relevant to me. One of their in-line posts was to pester me to do a review of a company I'd never had any dealings with. After a few weeks of this I gave them a review on their facebook page all right, just not one they were hoping for. They kicked up a stink with facebook and pleaded with me to remove my review as it was hurting their business. The final straw for me was when facebook kept pestering me to install their add-on for Firefox so I could receive notifications in my browser even when not having a facebook tab open. Every day I clicked "no" to the pestering and in the end I gave up and deleted my account. Can't say I miss facebook at all now.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: "They bypassed my adblocker"

        As well as something like uBlock origin as a generic ad-blocker, you really should use 'FB Purity' if you have to use Arsebook for any reason. On Chrome/Chromium you need to explicitly allow them for incognito mode if you usually use that to drop cookies, etc, on exit.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          I'm also well over 100 years old on Facebook

          I have my birthdate info hidden though, so people never see when it is my birthday. Occasionally I see ads that are targeted at oldsters, which makes me laugh at how Facebook's advertisers are wasting their money on me!

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

      When idiots ask me my age for no good reason, I generally tell them that I was born on February 29th, 1904 (the actual birthday of a family friend). Probably doesn't do much as a protest, but it gets me past the computer gatekeeper and hopefully manages to corrupt a marketing database occasionally.

    4. Naselus

      Re: "...18 to 24-year-olds..."

      Yeah, I put my DOB in as like 1948. I got a lot of pro-Trump ads despite my generally left-leaning viewing habits and social groups, and despite having never set foot in the US in my life.

  5. Youngone Silver badge

    No one cares

    Advertising has always struck me as something of a con.

    In a previous life I dealt with one of the huge multi national advertising agencies, and the vast amounts of money they raked in never really seemed to have any bearing on the results they produced.

    None of their customers seemed to care, as the long lunches were legendary.

    1. Naselus

      Re: No one cares

      It kind of is and kind of isn't.

      Advertizing definitely works. You can see the difference between a company that pays for advertizing and one that doesn't - say, Coca Cola vs whatever your local brand of shitty coke is. On the other hand, it's basically impossible to quantify how effective each advert actually is, or how the money spent on the ad translates into 'brand image'.

      Could Coke slash it's multi-billion dollar advertizing spend and still sell as much? Probably. The adverts long ago stopped having anything to do with the product, after all.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No one cares

        "Coca Cola vs whatever your local brand of shitty coke is"

        To be fair advertising "shitty coke" wouldn't be a great move unless "shitty" meant something different to the English meaning in the local language.

        That doesn't alter the fact that the more I see Coca Cola advertised the less I want to buy it.

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    WTF?

    Party like it's 1999

    Eyeballs! Eyeballs! Eyeballs! Eyeballs! Layoffs!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      There are people who genuinely use Facebook as an easy way to connect with people they don't see often. They say to all their contacts: "I'll be in LA next week, send me a message if you're there and want to meet". That feels to me the perfect usage, which is genuinely useful and cannot easily be replaced by another tool.

      Apart from that, I mostly see: jokes, links to articles, family pics, pictures showing how cool the user is since he's on a beach/in a bar/on a mountain, pictures of vaguely interesting sceneries (like a cloud).

      There are also people who treat is as a microblogging site, and post many times a day to give their opinion on some subject.

      Artists tend to post pictures of whatever they're working on, at different stages. That can be interesting.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        ratfox ... Your "perfect" usage can easily be replaced with email.

        The rest of yours doesn't need facebook, either. As proof, we were doing all that (and more!) long before this new-fangled WWW-thingie even existed.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. rmason Silver badge

          Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

          It could be replaced with email, but "easily"?

          Not really. You're either having to maintain an email address book properly, with the relevant groups all setup and maintained (would you email ALL your contacts that you're off to LA, to stick with the prior example? Or do you have a list of LA residents? or people likely to be in LA?

          Or you could stick one post on facebook, that all your friends see. They can either act on it or ignore it.

          Facebook is a far more convenient tool to use and will actually reach the intended audience.

          We are techies. Most people aren't.

          Any idea how often my mum checks her email? No, me neither, but I can tell you she checks her facebook multiple times daily, and almost instantly should she be "tagged".

          She will be closer to the average user than you or I, emailing her would be absolutely pointless unless you wanted a reply three weeks after you'd left LA, about something totally unrelated.

          If you stopped 10k people in the street, and asked them when they last checked their email and when they last checked FB, you'd be surprised. It's much more of a standard across loads of the population than email is.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

            Yes, easily. Your arguments to the contrary are nonsensical. At best you are just pointing out that people are lazy creatures of habit and unwilling to learn anything new.

            My Dear Old Mum (age 83) is far more likely to.check her email than FB. But then I've been her email admin for forty years or so, and she hates FB.

            If I stopped and asked all the flies on this ranch, they'd be unanimous in thinking that wallowing about in shit is a good idea. It doesn't mean I'd be likely to agree, nor emulate them.

            1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
              Go

              Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

              @ Jake...

              Have you thought about setting up a FB group to advertise your intelligent talking flies? That sounds like a goldmine just waiting for an audience.

            2. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

              Yes, easily. Your arguments to the contrary are nonsensical. At best you are just pointing out that people are lazy creatures of habit and unwilling to learn anything new.

              Your social network is "email" and the people using facebook are the flies wallowing in shit unable to learn anything new? We get it, you don't like facebook, and are insular enough in your own life in order to reject communication with anyone who does use facebook as a means of communication.

              In my age group(s), 25-34 and 35-44 - I'm on the cusp - it is the usual method of arranging things between multiple people. Having a party? Going camping? Its a facebook event, with its own page, map to the venue, information, list of guests etc. We invite people to our parties whose emails and phone numbers we don't have nor want, and they don't have to share them. We don't have problems that someone invited last minute is missing the first 100 emails in the thread.

              We also don't do this horrific practise of sitting down with people and tediously passing them our holiday snaps, like they could give a fuck. We don't email them around or create mailing lists to distribute them, we just post them to facebook and anyone of our friends who cares to view them can do so.

              Facebook does a bunch of things that I don't like, but it does a lot of things that simplify communicating with my extended friends and family. I'm capable of learning new things (like this "email" thing, do you have a link?), but I'm also capable of utilising a tool that provides benefits whilst minimising its negative aspects.

        3. ratfox Silver badge

          Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

          ratfox ... Your "perfect" usage can easily be replaced with email.

          No it can't. I don't know the complete list of all my old friends who live in LA, or who might happen to be in LA next week. And I'm not about to spam the mailbox of hundreds of people who might or might not live in LA.

          Contrary to email, what you write in Facebook does not demand more than one second of attention of anybody who isn't interested. It does not guarantee either that people will happen to read it, and that's totally a feature.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        My cat posts pictures several times a day - more if awake.

    2. Andy Non

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      I used it to participate in a few special interest groups on facebook, pretty much like I use El Reg. Many traditional internet forums have died and gone to facebook. Can't say that facebook is heaven though. From a forum owner's perspective, moving to facebook saves them the cost and hassle of administrating their own server and there are no website usage bandwidth costs; plus many of their users already have accounts there anyway.

      Setting up a special interest or hobby group on facebook is trivially easy and free of charge, so I can see why there are so many groups catering for almost any interest.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      "Genuine question - what is the point of facebook ?"

      To make money.

      1. jphb

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        I don't think Facebook actually makes money, they just relieve other people of it.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      "Is it to allow conversations to occur in a group of people no matter where they are, or is it just a self publicising platform ?."

      It's a platform where narcissistic, insular people can gather in like-minded groups to reinforce their petty world-view without fear of being contradicted by real life.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        @ (no body)

        THIS. TEN THOUSAND TIMES!

        Although it *is* how certain persons to whom I am related manage to keep in touch - two (families) in China and only occasionally having access to an appropriate vpn, and several friends who live and work in (sadly) the arabian peninsula and only rarely have the opportunity to say "Hi there"

        The *vast* majority of facebook is memes, verbal diarrhoea, political echo chambers, selfies, posing, MLM victims, narcissism, desperate cries of "Look at MEEEEEE", and utterly irrelevant advertising.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        "a platform where narcissistic, insular people can gather in like-minded groups to reinforce their petty world-view without fear of being contradicted by real life."

        So in that particular respect it's

        a) a lot like Westminster politics (replace Westminster with locally appropriate name as required).

        b) a lot like Sadville, even in the days when anyone knew about Second Life. (replace Second Life with other temporarily appropriate name as required, e.g. MySpace, Yahoo Groups, AOL, Usenet, etc)

        c) Etc

      3. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        Whilst I certainly support your cynical world view, I don't necessarily agree with the "without fear of being contradicted by real life" statement. I would say the opposite [or a least part-opposite] is true.

        I stopped using FB a while ago and have been slowly removing any content I had previously uploaded, but I've sniggered, laughed and been at the same time absoutely appalled at many online FB discussions where everyone seems to go off at everyone else at any small point with all sorts of aggressive, outlandish and mostly dumb responses to the initial "petty-world view" stated. This was certainly true during the recent Presidential elections, Brexit fiasco and the UK Parliamentry elections.

        FB to me simply became a real-world, real-time, gutter level platform for lots of keyboard warriors who absolutely equate the "reply with comment" box with "reply with lengthy diatribe or essay" - and really shows up a lot of people as being [at best] ill-informed; but mostly uncivil, overly emotional, angry, discourteous and downright nasty.

        I don't miss it one iota.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      It is for 15 year old girls with no friends to pretend they have friends.

      1. Nolveys Silver badge

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        It is for 15 year old girls with no friends to pretend they have friends.

        What a sad world this is.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

        "It is for 15 year old girls with no friends to pretend they have friends."

        As far as I can tell, it's purpose is to allow parents of 1 to 5 year olds to actually have friends...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What Is The Point of Facebook ?

      I don't know. Sorry.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how long before one of these megasites starts tracking real, verifiable identities proven by some legal document such as a driver's license that's verified by the relevant authority? I mean, the Chinese are pushing towards this now? Why not anyone else in the name of proving identity?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money laundering angle?

    Maybe only because I just finished watching Ozark.

    But seriously, make these guys hire auditors. Fishy is fishy.

  10. Sureo

    When asked online, I always specify my DOB as Jan. 1, 1970. Seems appropriate. Or maybe I should use 1982-03-04, the date I got my first PC. In any case I don't use FB or any of those others.

    1. Andy Non

      Hey you share your online birthday with me! ;-)

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a new channel for regular information on metrics enhancements."

    Metrics enhancements. You don't say!

  12. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One of my frequent comments on advertising is that the advertising industry never produces net statistics for its outcomes; they don't measure the number of potential or actual customers put off by persistent pestering.

    In response there'll be occasional replies that the industry employs statisticians who thoroughly examine results. Given that the industry doesn't seem to have spotted this one I think I'll stick with my original thought: it doesn't and daren't measure what their activities actually achieve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually a well conducted advertising campaign does provide net statistics that will/should show a net increase in sales or interest and this does of course include the customers that have been put off. However if you also had access to your competitors figures the picture would be more complete. e.g.

      http://dilbert.com/strip/2014-09-08

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "this does of course include the customers that have been put off"

        You measure the increase in sales stimulated by the few percent who responded positively and wanted whatever type of product it was that was being advertised. What you don't measure is the future lost sales that could have gone to those who don't want that type of product at the time but are so annoyed at being pestered that when they do want something of that ilk will deliberately go to a competitor. Those need to be subtracted from your gross upturn in sales to get the overall picture.

        TL;DR. Not all effects take place at the same speed.

        But thanks for proving my point ;)

        1. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Depends. Some people do. We do, or at least try to. It's tricky because it's almost impossible to get a reliable control group or even a reliable sample but you can produce long term trends.

          We know, for example, what the optimum rate of ads is before they start to be a turn off. We also know how long it takes you to forget and forgive. Both are averages and will vary by person, so we tend to model by clusters.

          And then there's whether your annoyance affects your purchasing behaviour.

          1. Naselus

            You get correlation, but not causation. Sure, some of the new sales are undoubtedly down to the advertizing campaign. Some are probably just natural growth. It's impossible to ascribe one way or the other, and advertizing has never really managed to find a way round that; it's heavily based on faith.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "We also know how long it takes you to forget and forgive."

            Forever.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Don't be so sure. You could end up in a "Walking on the Sun" situation where it's the only option left and you can't go without (and no, you can't roll your own--we hold patents).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the surveillance business

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product

  14. The Nazz Silver badge

    Short trial on Facefooked

    Out of a morbid curiosity i had a short spell of opening an account under a false identity, that of a 40 year old lesbian.

    I abandoned it shortly afterwards after being pestered by ads for shaving products.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Short trial on Facefooked

      You sound hot.

  15. John Crisp

    Fake....

    Having taken an interest in fake accounts, bots, shills et al over the last year I was originally pretty surprised at just how many there were. Some of them are remarkably good at what they do.

    Seeing these sorts of stats now doesn't surprise me in the least, and I'd lay some reasonable money on the numbers being on the conservative side. By a long way.

    The whole social media eco system, along with its users, have been gamed by various organisations, and we aren't just talking 'Russkies'

    Somewhere, somehow, I hope someone will find a sensible solution to the situation - I do believe SM can have its uses. But sanity certainly won't come from the proprietors of said sites, nor the organistations that benefit the most (the scammers).

    Until such time, social media is best treated with the comtempt and suspicion it thoroughly deserves, and not as the reliable source that so many proclaim.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Fake....

      Hell, there are even bots in The Register's comments section, posting semi-coherent screeds only tangentially related to the article, using terrible grammar and seemingly random punctuation and capitalization, and generally communicating in a manner obviously one step removed from that of humanity.

      I'm sure bombastic bob's programming will be more convincing one day.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bots in The Register's comments section

        "I'm sure bombastic bob's programming will be more convincing one day."

        That wasn't the name I was expecting to see after the introduction, but hopefully AMFM won't be too offended.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: bots in The Register's comments section

          AMFM was the beta, Bob just can't turn it off.

          I *believe* the illuminati, or one of the fictional government entities he's always so concerned about, changed the password for laughs.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Fake....

      "fake accounts, bots, shills et al"

      Yes, there are many, many businesses who do "reputation management" and have large numbers of accounts/friends/followers/whatever and will "guarantee" getting your message out to millions or trending (as they say on Twitter) for a fee. To do that needs many, many fake accounts or many, many paid shills.

  16. jonfr

    In the nearby future

    In the nearby future Facebook is going to simply vanish on the internet. Their revenue model is not as sound as they claim it to be. Currently Facebook is already awful to use (Google+ and Twitter are a lot better to use). Oddly as it seems, Facebook also seems to freeze Firefox (for a short time) and the website is generally doing something odd when used (not sure what).

    I'll be happy when Facebook is gone and forgotten.

    1. Wulfhaven

      Re: In the nearby future

      Start up wireshark with a facebook tab open and be amazed at how much chatter goes on.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: In the nearby future

      "(Google+ and Twitter are a lot better to use)"

      How can it be a lot easier to use when it practically no longer exists? Or have I missed the announcement that Google decided to drop the idea of dropping Google+?

  17. herman Silver badge

    It looks like all these groups are overlapping by 50% or so.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CB

    A couple of years after CB radio came to the UK I bought a cheap second-hand rig. In London there would be 35 channels of people talking shit and 5 channels of people trying to be DJs. In short, a complete waste of time. That's what Facebook is today.

  19. Anne-Lise Pasch

    The Facebook Advertising Demographics

    ...Are partially based on *location*

    People move around. A person at college in another state is in two places, and counts twice, as far as location-based demographics is concerned. That's why Facebook's statement "number of factors, including Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, and *location data from devices*" is both truthful and easy to misinterpret.

  20. Steve the Cynic

    Location data...

    The final paragraph of the article mentions the question of location data. It's entirely possible that they *aren't* using your location data as derived from a phone or internet connection. You "Like" things in a particular area, or you are *already* friends with people who said they are in a particular area (probably your local area, maybe), and they can conclude that you are probably there.

    That being said, I get recommendations for potential friends in several areas (subjects or geographical) that don't really apply any more, if they ever did:

    * Artists and gallery operators from various places, because I have a FBFfriend who's an artist

    * Assorted ordinary Americans because of a couple of old old friends that I made over there years and years ago who later became FBFriends.

    * A wide selection of people in Regina, BC, because one of my FBFriends moved there and posts incessantly.

    * Various martial artists who know some of my other FBFriends from my days as a student of jujitsu.

    But, returning to the context of the article: I have one account that I use sparingly, and I post things almost never.

  21. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well of course it's mostly fake accounts

    Just look here:

    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=facebook+users+per+world+population

    while they made great efforts to cut them down, there's still plenty of them.

  22. strum Silver badge

    30%

    There's at least 30% more of me than there should be. Perhaps that's it?

  23. Sil

    Same in France

    I've checked for France: the delta is 37 % between Facebook's promised reach and INSEE's population numbers.

    One would need 2 millions non resident 18-24 tourists in France, at any time, for Facebook numbers to sound right.

    1. Poncey McPonceface
      WTF?

      Re: Same in France

      You seem to be all assuming that _100%_ of the population in a certain demographic _actively_ use Facebook when calculating the % discrepancy. Surely not every single person in a certain demographic uses Facebook, and of the % that do surely not all do so actively. Thus the 37% discrepancy in the French case for 18-24 y.o should be higher. How much higher? Hard to know, but what if it's 50% or 60% ? Do advertisers need to know what the discrepancy is? Do the shareholders?

  24. Evil Auntie

    Usernames have always been easily lost

    Going back to the dark ages of email on the Internet when your email was always issued by either your employer or your service provider - even then you could have several email accounts. Lost password? no problem - there was always an IT person who could either give you a new password or reset the account.

    Then Netscape and Apple got into the game and started giving away email accounts. BUT - there was no retrieval process for email passwords, so if you forgot a password you simply created a new account.

    Now we are several generations down the road and folks like Google and Facebook are attempting to actually link the identity of an account to a real person - easier said than done. A government provider would have to issue email addresses like drivers licenses or passports with an absolute 1:1 correspondence where all aliases are linked to the master record. Even then there would probably be a black market in fake addresses.

    As for bots using email addresses - that will continue until all emails are absolutely verifiable back to a real person. For various reasons, many governments are reluctant to embrace this - Think privacy for the EU and skullduggery for Russia. Other governments love the idea - like China - because it makes internal security more straightforward.

    Rule of thumb: divide all the hype about numbers of people reached by 2 or more.

  25. jonp0001

    Bots

    I ran a small scale advertising campaign recently with a landing page that had Inspectlet on it (a user screen recorder) and 99% of the "people" landing on the page spent and identical amount of time on it (2-3 seconds) and all performed and almost identical mouse movement in that time. Anecdotal evidence I know, but I'll never do that again...

  26. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    I Noted A Similarity

    ....to America's voter rolls...........

  27. Daedalus Silver badge

    So what else is new?

    Scientific American had "scientific" surveys done that proved that most of its readers were rich executives likely to want to see ads for BMW's, Rolexes and high-end liquor, instead of far less valuable students and old shufflers. Hyping your "audience" is SOP for anybody selling eyes to advertisers. You'd think the ad droids would have figured it out by now.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese
      Happy

      Re: So what else is new?

      Scientific American had "scientific" surveys done that proved that most of its readers were rich executives likely to want to see ads for BMW's, Rolexes and high-end liquor...

      If a bunch of highly qualified scientists can't work out how to fudge the system, I'd be very surprised. :-)

      1. Daedalus Silver badge

        Re: So what else is new?

        The mag was largely run by marketeers. The one scientist they did have on the editorial staff pointed out what a load of cobblers all their research was, but was ignored. He analyzed their surveys and pointed out that the options for "Occupation" tended to have stuff like "Executive", "Medical Professional" etc. as choices with everything less desirable going to "Other". There were also myths about what kind of cover sold the most off the news-stand (it's an OLD story), what time of year was best for what kind of article, and the highly bogus "sell-through" number that measured the fraction of the print run that actually sold, ignoring the fact that the run size was itself highly variable and at the whim of marketing.

        All highly suspect until you realize that the object is to maximize ad revenue, in which case it makes a twisted kind of sense.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: So what else is new?

      "You'd think the ad droids would have figured it out by now."

      Not really. It wouldn't be in their interest to do that.

      The ad industry sells marketing. It would cut their income severely if they had to admit their product was junk. In a lot of cases even those commissioning ads in their customer organisations probably don't want to know: they're in marketing departments and their jobs depend on being able to generate marketing activity.

  28. Ryan Kendall

    Per Device

    Facebook on Work PC, Facebook on Home PC, Facebook on the laptop, Facebook on Phone.

    I'm FOUR people according to Facebook.

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