How to Fake the Numbers: Lessons from Twitter and Facebook

seppukooI once wrote a satirical post that 3.24% of Facebook users are dead. My point was pretty simple, Facebook continues to inflate their numbers by counting the number of total accounts rather than accounts with recent usage.

On the Facebook advertising page, it states, “Reach over 350,000,000 active Facebook users.” Really? If I sign up for an ad, that ad will reach over 350 million users? I think Facebook should better define what an active user is.

The Facebook stats page states:

  • More than 350 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • More than 35 million users update their status each day
  • More than 55 million status updates posted each day

Sounds to me like Facebook has more like 175 million active users. Not only is Facebook being creative with its numbers, they’ve also brought out the lawyers to go after applications that will remove your account. The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine has posted the Cease and Desist letter from Facebook. This kind of bullying must stop! They’ve also blocked and sent a C&D to Seppukoo. At the same time, they’re trying to push more adoption through their automatic friend finder.

Twitter seems to have taken a lesson from the same valuation attorneys. Twitter loves autofollow mechanisms, but has sent their dogs out on applications with auto-unfollow.

I have no doubt that Twitter and Facebook continue to grow. So why are they trying to whack these services even though they’re growing so robustly?

Three Reasons: Valuation, Advertising, and Investors

The fact is there are millions of abandoned accounts out there, and it’s a shame that Twitter and Facebook are playing this ugly game. It’s the antithesis of the spirit of openness and honesty in social media. They should be ashamed and the blogging powers that be should be holding them accountable instead of slobbering and fawning all over them.

If we were talking about the Newspaper industry here, and they counted every person that ever read the newspaper since its inception, we’d be screaming bloody murder and probably suing the crap out of them for false advertising. But these are the golden boys of tech… we wouldn’t do that to Twitter.

Marketers beware. Only one person has told me that they’re happy with Facebook advertising – and this company was posting a branding strategy where they actually did NOT want Facebook users to click the ads. It’s working brilliantly, no one is clicking.

If you’d like to delete your Facebook account, go to the Seppukoo home page where they provide do-it-yourself instructions. That’s also where the beautiful image came from.


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    Amen. It’s not only the big names. Even small shops resort to the same trick. Just search for online games and every site you come across will claim millions of users playing the game. Sure, millions might have opened an account but most simply to try and abandon the game.

    BTW, here’s another food for thought. I have a Facebook account but only use it to get updates from people through Trillian. Never really post an update myself. I login almost every day through Trillian but should I even be considered an active user? I rarely login and provide pageviews for advertisement purposes. Sure, I might be generating a minute incremental usage but overall, my activity level is like a speck in the universe compared to the activity level of an average teenager or you. 😛

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  3. 3

    Define to me what an active user is, Ryan? If an active user is a person that only logs in once a week – I’m confident that will NOT add up to their 350 million count. That’s the point of my post.

    Twitter ABSOLUTELY allows and PROMOTES auto-following through third party applications. The link you sent only refers to ‘aggressive’ auto-following.

    Social-Too doesn’t aggressively auto-unfollow, it simply unfollows people that follow you. Why isn’t that allowed?

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