Skip to main content
ABC News
Significant Digits For Friday, May 24, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

2.2 billion fake accounts

If I had a nickel for every fake account that Facebook said it removed during the first quarter of this year, I’d have a cool $110 million. The company said it removed 2.2 billion such accounts, a record. The company also said it deleted 1.5 million posts “promoting or engaging in drug and firearm sales.” [Bloomberg]

5-year ban

A five-year ban on elephant hunting in the southern African nation of Botswana has been lifted. The country has the largest elephant population in Africa, with about one-third of the continent’s total. The Times reports that some believe the move is an attempt by the country’s president to woo rural voters before elections scheduled for later this year. [The New York Times]

1 billion years old

Want to feel young? Fossilized remains of the oldest known fungus — Ourasphaira giraldae — on the planet have been found in the Canadian Arctic and are thought to have formed between 900 million and 1 billion years ago. The discovery of billion-year-old fungi “suggests that the organisms laid the groundwork for the first plants to colonize the land about 470 million years ago.” [The Guardian]

2028 at the earliest

The planned replacement of President Andrew Jackson with abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill won’t happen while President Trump is in office and not until 2028 at the earliest, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Trump “has come to revere” Jackson and his portrait hangs in the Oval Office. [The Washington Post]

2,536 rpms

It well known by now that strikeouts in Major League Baseball are at all time highs — 23 percent of plate appearances this season. And it’s not just increased pitch velocity that’s to blame, it’s also spin. Curveballs and sliders have gotten nastier, too, with the average curveball spin rate this year at 2,536 rpms, up from 2,315 rpms four years ago. Put another way, 86 pitchers who threw at least 50 curves in 2017 and 2019 averaged an increase of 1.4 inches of greater vertical break, my colleague Travis Sawchik writes. [FiveThirtyEight]


The City of Torrington police department, in Connecticut, posted two mugshots on Facebook along with the following message: “Here’s an interesting one … Jose Simms (The first warrant pictured) negotiated with me earlier this week (Through Facebook) and has agreed to turn himself in to Torrington Police if we can get 15,000 ‘likes’ on this post (I said 10,000 he wanted 20,000, we split).” The police department’s Facebook post continued: “It will be difficult but is doable.” [CNN]

Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.

Oliver Roeder was a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied game theory and political competition.