On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog (or a horse, or a cat). And on Facebook, no one knows you're a fake. Or at least they didn't until Facebook just fessed up to there being more than 83 million fake profiles being poked and ogled daily on its site, The Guardian reports.
It turns out that many of these fake Facebook profiles are created by over-enthusiastic pet owners. Also diluting Facebook Inc are millions of "undesirable" profiles. This is not Zuck & Co's aesthetic judgement on the composition of certain users' profile pictures, it refers to accounts set up to spam genuine Facebookers, the paper reports.
The 83m+ figure came out of Facebook's first quarterly report to US financial regulators -- a requirement for Facebook since it became a publicly traded company. Which just goes to show there's no such thing as a free $104.2bn stock market flotation.
In the report, Facebook admitted close to a tenth (8.7 per cent) of its 955m global users are about as real as unicorns, pixies, fairies, the Loch Ness monster and Tony Blair's smile.
Earlier this year, Facebook had estimated fake profiles accounted for just five or six per cent of its user base.
The bulk of the fakes -- circa 46m -- are actually duplicate accounts, The Guardian reports. Presumably, they're set up by job-seeking graduates who desperately need to purge their 'excessive beer consumption' years from public record. Either that, or there's a whole lot of people living double lives out there.
Pets and other 'non-human entities' -- such as businesses and, speculating wildly, potted-plants and body parts -- make up around 23m of Facebook's user base. "Undesirables" account for some 14m profiles, according to the paper.
Facebook pet profiles might look pretty cute to you and me, but the existence of Fido the Facebook-loving dog could ultimately lead to some unpleasant gnawing on the company's bottom line.
Facebook's share price has declined considerably since it floated, with the stock briefly dipping to a record low of below $20 per share this week.
How many Facebook profiles do you have? And do you reckon any of your Facebook buddies aren't actually human? Let me know in the comments below or surf on over to our bona fide Facebook page.