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Is Facebook cheating on statistics?

Techcrunch has another take (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) Rank on Alexa has jumped from 10th to 7th.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.