We’ve long worked with a statistic that about half of Facebook’s membership of into the site daily, but what about the rest of the 845 million monthly active users the company cites?
According to Facebook’s prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a user doesn’t have to visit the site directly to be counted as active.
Simply like an article in a favorite newspaper, or post a message to the social network via Twitter, or share music with friends from Spotify, or touch any other third-party website that uses Facebook’s plugins, and the company considers you an active user.
Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times questions the accuracy of Facebook’s tally, although he can only nail down a possible discrepancy of about 40 million, based on December data from the Nielsen Company. Some might call that outdated.
Massaging data to promote a company’s standing isn’t anything new in the tech industry. Even Sorkin admits that any exaggeration made by Facebook isn’t nearly as egregious as say, Groupon’s creative accounting. Or tallies of Google Plus subscribers.
Facebook seems to be making a genuine effort to count anyone who touches the platform in some way, including through sites using plugins.
As long as companies promote their brand, questions will always exist about how proprietary information is presented.
Manipulating data to prove a viewpoint is a practice as old as time, and these particular numbers will have a more transparent pricetag associated with them once public markets start trading Facebook shares.
For Facebook, the bigger question is how to leverage such an active and massive user base with advertisers.
Readers, do you think Facebook should provide to the public separate tallies of people who actually visit the site versus those who access the capability through plugins on third-party websites.