Facebook removes more than 3 billion fake accounts

Logo of Facebook is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering Viva Tech,in Paris France

Facebook removes 3 billion fake accounts, but how many did it miss?

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.

The social network has, however, removed ad-sales employees' incentives to run political ads by eliminating commissions for them, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"This is due to an increase in automated attacks by bad actors who try to create a large amount of accounts at once", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained during a conference call following the release of the report. In the first quarter of this year, Facebook reported that it had 2.3 billion monthly active users. This is up from an estimated three to four per cent in the previous six-month report. And as shown in the above graph, Facebook is taking action, it is removing a lot of profiles, mostly before they're even able to connect with other users.

The report covers metrics across various policy areas including adult nudity and sexual activity, bullying and harassment, child nudity and sexual exploitation of children, fake accounts, hate speech, regulated goods (drugs and firearms), spam, global terrorist propaganda, and violence and graphic content.

Facebook said those posts were detected more proactively as it increased the use of artificial intelligence technology such as machine learning, in addition to human review of online content.

The company also includes the number of existing accounts that are taken down in its count of phony profiles. That's a sharp increase from the previous quarter, when 1.2 billion were removed.

That could help to explain the drop in overall numbers - 2.2 billion accounts is nearly an entirely new Facebook of fakes, which Facebook says that it's been able to stop from making it through. Facebook said the majority of these accounts were caught "within minutes of registration", before they became a part of the monthly active user (MAU) population.

Facebook is also beginning to use AI to detect and remove the sale of guns and drugs from its platform.

Commenting on the need government regulations on hate speech, Zuckerberg said, "At the end of the day, our teams are always going to have to make some judgment calls about what we leave up and what we take down".

Facebook is working to clean up the social platform from the presence of fake profiles.

Zuckerberg said, "The important thing as we think through this is also to balance that with understanding how legitimate users are behaving on our systems".

USA legislators are now looking into regulations that would protect user data similar to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation. They argue Facebook, which has acquired Instagram and WhatsApp in recent years, wields far too much power and has a monopoly in the industry.

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