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Facebook: A Million Faces or a Million Fakes?

It’s official….Facebook has ONE BILLION users.

Reflecting on the Facebook years, and the communicative transition our society has made, it doesn’t surprise me that the social media power house has managed to attract 1/7 of the world’s population (which, last I checked, is at 7,070,637, 600 and rapidly rising).

Now, we have to be a little skeptical of the one billion user mark. In recent news, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, conceded that an estimated 83 million Facebook accounts are “fake.” And that may be on the optimistic side of the spectrum.

In a numbers driven world, social media is famous for reporting implied measurements. We gage our success by Klout scores and engagement rankings that have been established by people who say they know what we they are doing. We take their word for it, say yes, those metrics seem to work, and go about our merry little tweeting ways.

However, at what point do we need to question metrics and the authenticity of social media megaliths- like Starbucks and McDonalds? In visiting successful profiles, which have fans and followers in the millions, it seems that only a significantly small percentage of that fan base actually engages with the company. Sure, a million “likes” looks nice, but what it Facebook also added a new metric, like a button that says, “Just kidding, this is really how many people like the page.” What if measurements and numbers and statistically driven campaigns drive the social right out of the media?

It all seems a bit mechanical, and often times fan engagement gets pushed to the back of the bottom drawer. While Facebook was created for faces, it has become apparent that those faces are becoming more squarish, more pixelated, like computer screens are trying to imprint our eyeballs and mouths into their operating systems, maybe creating algorithms out of our collective social spirit.

The point is, numbers become cumbersome when they are the nucleus of a social media campaign. One billion Facebook users is not indicative of the success of Facebook, it only means that the world wants to get social. We do not want to constantly create status updates and upload family albums, we want to connect, to feel a part of something larger than ourselves. Facebook is the platform by which the world speaks, but it’s reliant on the human desire for interaction; to be accepted by groups and organizations and communities; to engage in communal experiences that continue to reshape the social heartbeat of an electronically pulsating society.

Indeed, I will give credit where credit is due. One billion users is a tremendous accomplishment, even if 8% of that number includes phonies and duplicates. I just want you to remember that the human voice is the real motivation behind social media- to be heard, to share stories not numbers, to connect with parts of the world never thought possible. I’ll leave you with a quote by William Faulkner, made during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

“I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before.”



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5 Responses to “Facebook: A Million Faces or a Million Fakes?”

  1. Adi Gaskell says:

    Facebook is a fascinating beast for sure. With so many people using it, you’d think the commercial case studies would be over-flowing, yet the Facebook stock is awful, Zynga are suffering, and very few companies seem to win with FB advertising.

  2. Okay, be reasonable and ask yourself, what service it is the most difficult to have fake profiles on and get the same utility?

    How many of your friends aren’t on Facebook?
    Why do all blogs, tech websites want to write about Facebook?
    If facebook makes a small change, as small as changing a font size or testing a feature with .1% its users, it becomes a news. Why?

    if you measure all online services by the same yard stick, then Facebook’s billion users are more real than any other service, after banks!

    • Thank you for the comment.

      I understand the questions you pose, and agree that it seems a little absurd that Facebook gets the recognition that it does. However, the reality is that Facebook is the most social platform around. And when Facebook makes minor changes, the world wants to know, because the world wants to keep up with technology at all costs. We can’t deny them the craving.

      Facebook’s users are certainly real, no doubt about it. But the sheer quantity of Facebook users is more a testament of countries, continents and civilizations wanting to go social. It’s not about marketing money and statistics. It’s about the desire to connect with the “bigger picture,” a framework where the common voice of the common man can be heard amidst the world’s technological clamor. And, after all, the one billion mark is only an invisible number that humans have given value to.

      A sincere thanks for taking the time to read the article. We hope to hear back from you.

  3. Valeriy says:

    Hey Jordan Marquez,

    Awesome article. I believe we are heading into an interesting direction. We have (possibly) 1/7 of every living person right now, connected through one website. I agree with your statement that it doesnt signify success, and that its just the world being social.

    I believe the real goal for you Jordan, as well as for us, would be to create that one product/website that will capture 2/7 of the world, then 3/7 then the world!

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