Facebook is cracking down harder on fake accounts.
In the first quarter of 2019, action taken by Facebook against suspected fake accounts was twice as much as it had done with such accounts in the fourth quarter of 2018, announced the company on Thursday in its third periodic Community Standards Enforcement Report.
The company said that the increase in action was due to “automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time.”
Responding to calls of breaking up his company through antitrust, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the effort of Facebook to crack down on fake news and fake accounts and other content that violates its policies would be hurt by such a move. Zuckerberg said this while he was on a call discussing the report.
“The amount of our budget that goes toward our safety systems is greater than Twitter’s whole revenue this year,” said Zuckerberg on a call on Thursday. “We’re able to do things that I think are just not possible for other folks to do.”
Compared to 1.2 million accounts in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company disabled 2.19 million accounts in the first quarter of 2019.
And considering the announcement of the company that it had 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAUs) in its first quarter of 2019, the number of disabled accounts is huge.
Since those accounts that are obvious fakes tend to be removed fairly quickly and therefore the number of accounts Facebook disabled during the quarter is not included in its MAU figure, said a Facebook spokesperson. Despite this effort, Facebook estimated that the current number of monthly active users contains about another 5 per cent of fake accounts.
In March this year, the largest social media platform in the world announced a shift in its privacy strategy which would ultimately move a large portion of its users’ communications to private, encrypted channels through the chat functions of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. But that move would also make it more difficult for Facebook to find and remove the type of content that were mentioned in the report published on Thursday, Zuckerberg said.
“We’ll be fighting that battle without one of the very important tools, which is of course being able to look at the content itself,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s not clear on a lot of these fronts that we’re going to be able to do as good of a job on identifying harmful content as we can today.”
And for the first time, Facebook also gave an account of the quantity of illicit sales of drugs and firearms conducted on the platform.
In the first quarter of 2019, 83% of 900,000 pieces of drug sale content were identified and taken action by deleting them proactively, Facebook said. That was 77 per cent more than the previous quarter. The company also proactively deleted and took measures against 69 per cent of the 670,000 pieces of firearm sale content in the same period while the number was at 65 per cent in the previous quarter.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)