San Francisco — At first glance, Amy Dowd’s Facebook account appears perfectly normal. There is a smiling profile picture of a young woman surrounded by autumnal leaves and the date that she began a new job at Southeast Missouri State University. But look more closely and things begin to seem strange. Unlike most 29-year-olds, Amy has no friends, no interests and no photos. The only thing she has written is a gushing review of a US haulage company. “Fake account,” replied one user. They were right.

This Amy Dowd does not exist. Her account is a fake bought by Financial Times as part of an investigation into the millions of bogus accounts littering the social media network in spite of efforts to better verify users.

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