Is Facebook cheating on statistics?

Techcrunch has another take on the latest Facebook statistics generated by Compete and sheds more light on what seems to be some blatant number inflation.

Erick Schonfeld writes that Beacon might be helping Facebook inflating its visitor numbers. The author then deconstructs the process.

When someone goes to the website of one of the 40 Facebook Beacon partners and performs a pre-defined action (Erick mentions writing a review or rating a hotel), a Facebook pop-up appears saying that your comments will be sent to facebook.

This action occurs even when non Facebook users interact with the Beacon partners. In effect, Facebook is caught red handed trying to game the unique visitors stats.

Compete, via Jay Meattle, states that the iFrame trick could account up to 2.3 million unique visitors, which is 40 percent of the 4.9 million unique visitors that Facebook has apparently brought onboard.

The iFrame trick might also explain why unique visitors are going up while the number of sessions and the page views per unique visitors have been free-falling.

Boosting the number of unique visitors could partly explain why Facebook's Rank on Alexa has jumped from 10th to 7th.