Number of Facebook Users Mysteriously Drops by Millions
(RightWing.org) – American media outlets were left scratching their heads this week after thousands of their Facebook followers suddenly vanished. It looks like the social media platform has launched another purge of bots and fake accounts.
Facebook follower numbers mysteriously drop across U.S. publisher pages https://t.co/lHAx8zNhhG
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) October 6, 2022
Between October 3-4, some of the largest US media companies saw sharp falls in the number of followers on their Facebook accounts. The most dramatic drop was on USA Today’s account, which lost 13,723 followers on Monday and another 11,392 the next day, a total of 25,115. The New York Times lost 12,578 and the Washington Post 10,141. Overall, seven media organizations that noticed the event lost a collective 68,504 followers.
Newsweek has asked Meta, Facebook’s parent company, what happened to all those followers — but it’s not actually hard to guess. According to Meta’s latest “Community Standards Enforcement Report,” the company deleted three billion fake accounts in the first six months of 2022. The report says that Facebook detects “millions” of fake accounts every day, so it’s likely one of their purges focused on a bot network that targets media outlets.
Fake accounts are a tricky issue for social media platforms. On one hand, having more accounts means they can charge more for advertising space; this gives them an incentive to leave fraudulent accounts alone as long as they’re not actively causing trouble. On the other hand, a reputation for having a lot of fakes can harm a company’s valuation.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk famously put his attempt to buy Twitter on hold after claims that the number of bot accounts was far higher than the 5% Twitter admitted to. As for Facebook’s purge, USA Today still has 9,277,061 followers, so losing 25,000 isn’t a big hit, but at least Facebook does seem to be making an effort to clean house.
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