Facebook’s war against online trolls has been raging for the last few months. The social media company took action on many fake accounts recently, most of which were from Russia and Iran. This is part of Facebook’s efforts to prevent interference from foreign entities into US politics.
The company said early this week that it had identified and removed a network of interconnected accounts. The statement also added that all these accounts were engaged in “coordinated and inauthentic behavior.” In essence, these were networks dedicated to spreading false information through the platform.
Facebook confirmed that a total of four elaborate networks were targeted in this latest action. Three of them were Iranian based and one was Russian. The network had a total of 200 accounts and pages. They were primarily used to share divisive memes targeting people in the United States, Latin America, and North Africa.
Facebook also noted that it has been doing a comprehensive policing campaign designed to identify coordinated misinformation networks on the platform. It looks like these efforts are finally starting to pay off. The social media giant also noted that the four networks removed had managed to reach over 250,000 users.
The spread of misinformation through social media is not something new. Foreign intelligence agencies have been using these platforms to try and influence public opinion in a wide range of issues. So far, Facebook says that a big share of these fake accounts originates from Iran, China, and Russia. Russia, in particular, was infamously blamed for conducting a well-organized social media disinformation campaign during the 2016 US election.
US intelligence agencies, including the head of the FBI, have also confirmed that the Kremlin is still engaged in these actions with the hope of influencing US public opinion as we head to the 2020 polls.
Facebook also notes that most of these disinformation campaigns tend to focus on divisive issues. LGBTQ topics, racial tensions, environmental issues, and political differences have all been used as major themes in these campaigns. The social media company is expected to continue with its policing campaign, especially now that we are just months away from the 2020 elections.
After all, US lawmakers have accused Facebook of doing very little to stop Russian interference in the 2016 election. The infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal, where the private data of millions of users was used for political purposes without their consent, was one of the biggest privacy breaches this year. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg even had to testify in front of Congress for the first time in the aftermath of the scandal.
Ever since, the social media giant has unveiled a raft of measures to ensure it’s better prepared to deal with such issues in the future. Getting rid of fake accounts is seen as a crucial first step and it’s clear that Facebook is working very hard in this. Nonetheless, the extent of the problem is still unknown.
Nobody knows how many fake accounts are there or the kind of impact they may have. But Facebook has now hired over 350,000 employees to fully focus on cybersecurity just to be on the safe side.