Tech

Facebook Removed 1.3 Billion Fake Accounts Amid Crackdown On Misinformation

(Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Facebook said Monday it took down more than 1.3 billion fake accounts between October and December 2020, and has removed more than 100 misinformation networks over the past three years.

“We take a hard line against this activity and block millions of fake accounts each day, most of them at the time of creation. Between October and December of 2020, we disabled more than 1.3 billion of them,” Facebook vice president Guy Rosen wrote in a blog post. “We also investigate and take down covert foreign and domestic influence operations that rely on fake accounts.”

“We’ve built teams and systems to detect and enforce against inauthentic behavior tactics behind a lot of clickbait,” he added. “We also use artificial intelligence to help us detect fraud and enforce our policies against inauthentic spam accounts.”

Facebook also said it has removed more than 100 networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior from the platform over the past three years. The company releases monthly reports about its efforts to stop coordinated campaigns attempting to manipulate public debate or information on the platform.

Social media companies like Facebook are facing pressure from lawmakers to combat misinformation on their platforms about topics ranging from COVID-19 to the 2020 presidential election. Facebook further noted in Monday’s blog post that the company has around 35,000 people working on addressing these challenges. (RELATED: YouTube Says It’s Taken Down 30,000 Videos For COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a joint hearing Thursday about Big Tech and the spread of misinformation on social media platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are expected to testify later this week.

Republican Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the committee’s ranking member, said in a statement earlier this month that social media companies need to “do better” in removing misinformation from their platforms.

“Unfortunately, Big Tech has broken any sense of trust that they can be fair stewards for speech and the truth. It is time for Energy and Commerce Republicans to act,” she said. “To be clear, we will not pursue government regulation of speech, but it’s a dereliction of our duty to our constituents to do nothing.”

Facebook’s blog post, in response to the upcoming hearing, said the company takes misinformation seriously and will continue to address it in the “most comprehensive and effective way possible.”

“Despite all of these efforts, there are some who believe that we have a financial interest in turning a blind eye to misinformation. The opposite is true,” Rosen wrote. “We have every motivation to keep misinformation off of our apps and we’ve taken many steps to do so at the expense of user growth and engagement.”