Let’s face it. Facebook is an unreliable news source these days. We need to research and trust publishers on the platform before sharing their content.
The recent data breach involving millions of accounts worsened the situation. How do we know the original owner still manages the account?
Facebook says it has a policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. It bans networks of accounts or Pages that work together to mislead others.
The company applied this policy this year to Pages, Groups and accounts created to incite political debate. But most of these coordinated inauthentic activities circulate because of money, not politics.
As Facebook updates its policies, violators also adapt to the changes.
Spam adapting to policy changes
The company says a common spam involves fraudulent products, such as weight loss “remedies” or fake sunglasses.
Spam these days have evolved. Spammers have created a network of Pages with fake or multiple accounts using the same name.
Clickbait posts drive people to sites outside of Facebook and seem authentic. But these are ad farms.
The offenders also publish these clickbait posts to Facebook Groups hundreds of times in a brief span to boost traffic for their sites.
Using fake accounts to gather fake likes and shares, it blows up engagement for their inauthentic Pages and succeeding posts. This misleads other users on how popular they are and their improved ranking in News Feed.
Popular topics to generate clickbait are celebrities and natural disasters. But Facebook says these inauthentic networks now focus on exaggerating political content. They earn money per site visitor.
“… like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the “news” stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate. This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior – such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam – rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove.”
Facebook announced Thursday the removal of 559 Pages and 251 accounts that broke its policies against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.
They disclosed the removal due to its timing before the U.S. midterms.
Facebook said the dubious Pages used fake accounts to share links across groups on Facebook. Those accounts hit the Like button on those links to boost engagement.
The company did not point out that the accounts spread fake news about the midterms. It only said that they shared news and “artificially inflated engagement” to spread the stories.
Facebook has ramped up its efforts against the spread of fake accounts, fake news and inauthentic behavior across its products. It has been a critical issue scrutinized by watchdogs since the 2016 U.S. elections.