Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Technology | By Russell Knight

Facebook has removed 583 million fake accounts this year

Facebook has removed 583 million fake accounts this year

Three weeks ago, for the first time, Facebook published the internal guidelines it uses to enforce what it calls community standards.

Facebook does not fully know why people are posting more graphic violence but believes continued fighting in Syria may have been one reason, said Alex Schultz, Facebook's vice president of data analytics.

The report covers the six months from October 2017 to March 2018, and also covered graphic violence, nudity and sex, terrorist propaganda, spam and fake accounts.

The response to extreme content on Facebook is particularly important given that it has come under intense scrutiny amid reports of governments and private organizations using the platform for disinformation campaigns and propaganda.

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Facebook revealed Tuesday that it removed more than half a billion fake accounts and millions of pieces of violent or obscene content during the first three months of 2018, pledging more transparency while shielding its chief executive from new public questioning about the company's business practices.

Meanwhile, Facebook's rate of squashing fake accounts is actually decreasing.

The company only recently developed the metrics as a way to measure its progress, and would probably change them over time, said Guy Rosen, its vice president of product management. In addition, Facebook stated that from the remaining accounts, a mere three to four percent were fake.

By comparison, the company was first to spot more than 85 percent of the graphically violent content it took action on, and nearly 96 percent of the nudity and sexual content.

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"Of every 10,000 content views, an estimate of 22 to 27 contained graphic violence, compared to an estimate of 16 to 19 last quarter", Xinhua quoted the report as saying. While Facebook's facial recognition software might have evolved in the long run, it could only flag 38 percent of hate speeches that have been spread across its platform.

Improved technology using artificial intelligence had helped it act on 3.4 million posts containing graphic violence, almost three times more than it had in the last quarter of 2017.

Facebook's detection technology "still doesn't work that well" in the hate speech arena and needs to be checked by the firm's review workers, Mr Rosen said.

"Artificial intelligence isn't good enough yet to determine whether someone is pushing hate or describing something that happened to them so they can raise awareness of the issue", said Rosen. "We tend to find and flag less of it, and rely more on user reports, than with some other violation types".

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While the removal of 583 million fake Facebook accounts is certainly noteworthy, it does little to address concerns regarding actual user privacy.

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