Facebook shares slump after 'fake' account revelations

Stat of the day: $19.82. Facebook shares hit a new low after the social network admitted nearly a tenth of its accounts could be fake. The share price dropped to $19.82, before rallying to close at $20.04.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

How the mighty fall. Facebook, once held up as a paragon of dotcom success, has slid off its pedestal and is now kicking its heels in the mud. Shares in the company have lost almost half their value since debuting at $38 in May, hitting a new low of $19.82 last night. It was the largest ever initial public offering to emerge from Silicon Valley - and is already one of the most infamous.

The latest embarrassment for the firm, and founder Mark Zuckerberg, follows its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which reveals that as many as 83 million Facebook accounts may be fake. Add to that the number of duplicate accounts  - as many as 5% of Facebook's active users have two or more accounts (well, you have one Facebook for friends and one for work, right?) and Facebook's 955 million members look more like 828 million. Unlike.

Facebook's investors are not going to be happy. From a valuation of $104bn on the first day of trading, Facebook's market cap has more than halved. UBS has already notched up a £227m loss on the social network, and there are a series of law suits in the works from disgruntled shareholders. The US authorities are also involved. They are investigating allegations that Facebook warned some investors (and not others) that its mobile business was on the skids ahead of the IPO. 

At the moment, Facebook can do nothing right. Even it's 32% growth over the past quarter has underwhelmed the market. And it's not just outsiders that are heading for the hills. Facebook employees will be allowed to start selling shares this month. Expect the markets to be awash in a sea of #3B5998 blue.

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