Facebook's alleged growth is largely coming from countries where Facebook says it has a fake account problem

By Facebook's own admission, more than 10 billion of the 12 billion Facebook accounts ever created have been fake; Facebook's growth has stalled out in high-income countries like the USA (where the company is actually losing users), and the majority of growth the company posted in 2018 came from "India, Indonesia, and the Philippines," which also happen to be places where Facebook says it has "meaningfully higher" rates of fake account creation, exacerbated by "episodic spikes" of fake accounts.

Facebook claims to have 2.3 billion users, but it also has made a series of contradictory and confusing disclosures about that number that make it hard to credit: they told the SEC that 5% of their accounts were fake and 11% were duplicates (up from 1% and 6% in mid 2017), but no one knows what that number means because in 2018 the company stopped releasing quarterly numbers and switched to annual reporting. And in any event, Facebook won't reveal its methodology for determining fake and dupe accounts, saying that they use a "limited sample of accounts" and then apply "significant judgment" when interpreting their findings.

But separately, Facebook says it saw 2.2 billion fake accounts created in Q2 2019 (that it knows about). That's the same number of active users the company claims to have. It's a big number.

We're left having to take Facebook's word for the size of its user-base. The number of active Facebook users has a direct relationship to the rates that FB can charge to its advertisers, so it has a powerful motivation to, uh, optimistically interpret its data, and the fact that no one else is allowed to check its work makes the whole thing pretty dubious.

Plain Sight estimates that 1 billion of FB's active users are fake, about half of that 2.3 billion number.

Some caveats: Plain Sight is a project of Think Computer Corporation, whose founder, Aaron Greenspan, is short on Facebook's stock. But Greenspan makes a pretty good case that Facebook has not earned our trust through its previous false disclosures, nor has it offered up the kind of transparency that might overcome that trust deficit.

Mark is smart, but he's never been smart enough to listen to those with experience. Instead, he has prioritized growth at any cost, pulling all of the control rods out of the reactor to achieve it, and now that those costs have caught up with him—namely, genocide, a role in putting a fascist, white supremacist in the White House, and severe reputational damage—he literally has no idea what to do. His usual go-to acronyms—VR? AI?—aren't quite cutting it, and much like Chernobyl, the resulting fallout is everywhere, impossible to clean up, and there are dead bodies on the ground. Even his co-founder and former roommate can't fully support him anymore, though Chris Hughes did still obsequiously refer to Mark as a "good, kind person" engaged in "nothing more nefarious than the virtuous hustle of a talented entrepreneur."

That's obviously false. Mark is not a good, kind person, as I have written for years . The only hustle he is engaged in is the usual kind: the fraudulent kind. And if I'm wrong about any or all of this, and Facebook releases the data and methodology it is using to reach the conclusions that it has about the strength of its platform, then I will gladly admit that I'm wrong.

But I'm not wrong. Facebook is a real product, but like Enron, it's also a scam, now the largest corporate scandal ever. It won't release its data about the 2016 election, about fake accounts, or about anything material—and because Mark knows it's a scam, he won't agree to testify before the British parliament in a way that could require him to actually answer any substantive questions, as I did in June. And because Facebook is also a component of the S&P 500, countless people have an incentive to maintain the status quo.

Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg's Fake Accounts Ponzi Scheme [Aaron Greenspan/Naked Capitalism]

(Image: Kimbar, CC-BY-SA, modified)