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Facebook: 83m Of Its Accounts May Be Dubious

(c) Sky News 2012

Facebook's share price has fallen below $20 two days in a row, as it was revealed around 8% of its accounts could be dodgy.

The US social networking website is now worth almost half what it was when it floated on the Nasdaq (Nasdaq: ^NDX - news) in May.

It has lost nearly $50bn (£32bn) in value, which is more than the total valuation of IT firm Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ - news) or coffee company Starbucks (NasdaqGS: SBUX - news) .

The stock debuted at $38 (£28) and since then has headed south, hit by increased doubts about its high valuation, growth prospects, and worries over its ability to make money from its growing mobile audience

Facebook's latest figures suggest as many as 83 million users may come from dubious sources - including duplicate accounts, pages for pets and those designed to send spam.

The number of real users is critical for the company as it seeks to secure advertising revenues from the website. Some analysts have expressed doubts that the company can boost revenues.

The number of accounts grew to 955 million at the end of the second quarter, but some 8.7% may be dodgy, the company admitted in its quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

There are "inherent challenges" in measuring usage "despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behaviour," the US tech giant said.

It said duplicate accounts - when a same user maintains more than one account - may represent some 4.8% of active users.

Another 2.4% may be for a business, group or "non-human entity such as a pet" and 1.5% are likely to be "undesirable" accounts that use the accounts for spam or other malicious activity.

"We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey," Facebook said.

The stock has been falling since the company released quarterly earnings last week for the first time as a public company.

Investors were disappointed despite second quarter results meeting Wall Street expectations, with revenue one-third higher than last year.

On Thursday, the share price traded as low as $19.82 (£15.06) and closed at $20.04 (£15.23). Friday trades were again below $20.

Meanwhile, professional networking site LinkedIn reported better-than-expected revenue, up 89% for the second quarter to $228.2m (£173.4m), driven by a boost to its premium subscription service.

However the firm reported a drop in net income, down to $2.8m (£2.12m) from $4.5m (£3.42m) in the same period last year.

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