Facebook disabled 1.3B fake accounts in 6 months

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

The report, released Tuesday, revealed how much content has been removed for violating standards.

The number of pieces of nude and sexual content that the company took action on during the period was 21 million, the same as during the final quarter of previous year. Facebook boasts 2.2 billion monthly active users, and if Facebook's AI tools didn't catch these fake accounts flooding the social network, it would have gained than a quarter of its total population in just 89 days.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, spam and fake accounts are at the top of the list and in the first quarter of this year alone, Facebook has removed 837 million spam pieces and 583 million fake accounts from the social network.

Elsewhere, Facebook removed 21 million pieces of content classified as adult nudity or sexual activity and took down or applied warning labels to almost 3.5 million pieces of violent content during the quarter.

Facebook's policing efforts are aimed at maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere for users and advertisers. We'll have to see whether Facebook continues to share data with the public in the weeks and months ahead.

- 836 million instances of spam had action taken against them. If Facebook tamps down on bad content, as some analysts predict, it is unlikely to lose users and advertisements, which account for 98% of its annual revenue. "This increase is mostly due to improvements in our detection technology", the report notes. For instance, Alex Schultz, the company's vice-president of data analytics, said the amount of content moderated for graphic violence nearly tripled quarter-on-quarter.

But it declined to say which countries see more of the offending content or which category of users.

Facebook said it removed 2.5 million pieces of content deemed unacceptable hate speech during the first three months of this year, up from 1.6 million during the previous quarter.

Fake accounts on Facebook have been drawing more attention because Russian agents used them to buy ads to try to influence the 2016 election in the U.S.

The posts that keep the Facebook reviewers the busiest are those showing adult nudity or sexual activity - quite apart from child pornography, which is not covered by the report. "We tend to find and flag less of it, and rely more on user reports, than with some other violation types". The social media network's CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a post on his Facebook page that credited AI's role in taking down the material, but he added that it was hard to pinpoint hate speech variations.

Facebook's head of global policy management Monika Bicket said the group had kept a commitment to recruit 3,000 more staff to lift the numbers dedicated to enforcing standards to 7,500 at the start of this year.

Hate speech was the only one that Facebook's detection tech could not quite get a handle on, as only 38 percent of the posts that were removed were flagged that way.