Facebook says more than 3 billion fake accounts deleted; AI credited

Facebook says more than 3 billion fake accounts deleted; AI credited


Facebook removed more than 3 billion fake accounts from October to March, twice as many as the previous six months, the company announced. 

The social network offered a status update Thursday on network safety, and how it’s doing pulling down bullying, racist, hate speech and nude content. 

“We have a responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Facebook said nearly all of the fake accounts were caught from artificial intelligence and more human monitors.

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.

Facebook 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.

Despite the positive spin put out by Facebook for this report, it’s clear the social network is engulfed in a never-ending and more heated battle from computer bots and others who are out to exploit the system. The issues first came into public discussion in 2016, when Russians were discovered to have played havoc with the social network in a bid to influence the outcome of the presidential election. 

Even as Facebook’s detection tools get better, so do the efforts by the creators of these fake accounts.

Facebook also said Thursday that it removed more than 7 million posts, photos and other material because it violated its rules against hate speech.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for government regulation to decide what should be considered harmful content and on other issues.

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.

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter. 



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