Header Ads

Facebook Removed Over 3 Billion Fake Accounts In 6 Months


Facebook Removed Over 3 Billion Fake Accounts In 6 Months

Facebook removed more than 3 billion fake accounts from October to March, twice as many as the previous six months. Nearly all of them were caught before they had a chance to become “active” users of the social network.

In a new report, Facebook said it saw a “steep increase” in the creation of abusive, fake accounts in the past six months. While most of these fake accounts were blocked “within minutes” of their creation, the company said this increase of “automated attacks” by bad actors meant not only that it caught more of the fake accounts, but that more of them slipped through the cracks.

As a result, the company estimates that 5% of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts. This is up from an estimated 3% to 4% in the previous six-month report.

Facebook also shared a new metric in the report. The number of posts removed that were promoting or engaging in drug and firearm sales. Facebook pulled more than 1.5 million posts from these categories in the first three months of this year, and said that it would eventually like to expand its report to include other types of illegal activity.

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the company has vastly increased its spending to police its products.

The increase shows the challenges Facebook faces in removing accounts created by computers to spread spam, fake news and other objectionable material. Even as Facebook’s detection tools get better, so do the efforts by the creators of these fake accounts.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for government regulation to decide what should be considered harmful content and on other issues. But at least in the U.S., government regulation of speech could run into First Amendment hurdles.

A thorny issue for Facebook is its lack of procedures for authenticating the identities of those setting up accounts. Only in instances where a user has been booted off the service and won an appeal to be reinstated does it ask to see ID documents.

Of the 3.4 billion accounts removed in the six-month period, 1.2 billion came during the fourth quarter of 2018 and 2.2 billion during the first quarter of this year. More than 99 percent of these were disabled before someone reported them to the company. In the April-September period last year, Facebook blocked 1.5 billion accounts.

Facebook attributed the spike in the removed accounts to “automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time.” The company declined to say where these attacks originated, only that they were from different parts of the world.

No comments