SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook delighted investors on Wednesday when it reported record third quarter revenues of $10.3bn, as well as 2.07bn active monthly users, but close examination shows it could have millions of fake and duplicate accounts.

According to Business Insider, “hidden” within Facebook’s Q3 2017 earnings are two important numbers that have gone largely unreported.

Within the small print of the social network’s impressive results, it has emerged that 10% of its 2.07bn monthly users are now thought to be duplicates of real users, or almost double its previous estimate of 6% in the previous quarter.

In addition, about 2-3% of its monthly users in the third quarter were fake, or “user-misclassified and undesirable accounts” – up from 1%, as previously reported.

Business Insider reported Facebook explaining that the changes were due to “a new methodology for duplicate accounts that included improvements to the data signals we rely on”.

While the 10% figure is relatively small compared to Facebook’s massive network of users around the world, it still equates to roughly 207m duplicate accounts – quite apart from its additional 60m “fake” accounts. In total, almost 270m accounts could be illegitimate, the Telegraph reported.

The UK newspaper said the disclosure could lead to Facebook coming under increased scrutiny about the accuracy of its data and it comes as the company, along with other social media giants, came under pressure this week to explain whether their platforms spread fake news during the US presidential election.

Appearing in front of a Senate judiciary subcommittee, Facebook confirmed reports that ads bought in Russia were delivered to an estimated 126m people during last year’s election campaign.

Colin Stretch, Facebook’s General Counsel, also admitted that the platform could not track all the 5m advertisers using it every month.

Sourced from Business Insider, Facebook, Telegraph; additional content by WARC staff