back to article Facebook removes about as many fake accounts as it has actual monthly users (yes, billions) in effort to clean up online

Just as the US Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 9 mg of rodent waste per kilogram of wheat and 0.15 μg/m3 of lead in the air over three months, Facebook expects toxic content will always be a part of its service. When CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue in a post last November, he said the antisocial network's …

  1. Poncey McPonceface
    Big Brother

    "content moderators" => "censors"

    "hate speech" => "speech that I don't like" or "speech that hurts my feelings" or "speech that upsets me"

    "terrorist propaganda" => "freedom fighting news" or "legitimate revolutionary communication"

    "adult nudity" => "breastfeeding pictures"

    "sexual activity" => "won't someone think of the children?!"

    "graphic violence" => …

    I don't envy Facebook. They have placed themselves in an unenviable position. Sometimes we're able to foresee certain technological developments and their social implications because scenarios get played out in fiction. I think the ills of social media blind-sided humanity. Things might have been better if Facebook had more of a libertarian backbone, like the Elders of the internet. Facebook made too many bad decisions for them to all be coincidences, their decisions spoke volumes about how they see the world. But Facebook are not alone.

    The recent political purges coordinated across the tech industry are shameful.

    I look back on the days when all it seems we had to worry about was open-source (ok, ok, free software, don't yell at me!) versus proprietary software with distinct nostalgia. Linux versus Microsoft, the evil SCO Group, that kind of thing. Ah, happy innocent times.

    VISA, Mastercard, Paypal blocking Wikileaks. Such brave patriotic companies. Complicit now in the murder of innocent civilians no less. YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Instagram, Twitter taking it upon themselves to police the internet of "extreme" political views. How nice of them. Why does any nation need laws and law enforcement when corporations from the United States will wade into the murky waters of the internet and web and clean it of sewage for us.

    Great times.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "hate speech" => "speech that I don't like" or "speech that hurts my feelings" or "speech that upsets me"

      that was more or less my initial reaction. thanks for saying it.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    I find it significant that a company actually needs a VP of Integrity.

    He is going to be a busy boy if is job is to ensure integrity thoughtout the business, or is it only other people's posts he is concerned with?

  3. werdsmith Silver badge

    But it’s not the fake accounts that are the problem. They make at least as much sense as the drivel that the normal Faecebook users like to bathe in.

    1. Jim Andrakakis

      Fake accounts are a problem for the ad industry, which makes it a much bigger problem for FB than fake news and what not.

      But it’s also a problem for users, because they are used to distort reality (1000s of likes to propaganda) and attack people or organizations.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      This is a fair point. FB could be doing a lot more to tackle fake news and obvious propaganda. For instance, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the exact same right-wing propaganda posted in forums. A good example of this is the "Lisbon Treaty 2020" nonsense. It would surely be trivial for a moderator to fact-check things like this that are doing the rounds, discover that they are obviously false, and remove all instances of them. A follow-up on the accounts posting them to check if they are bots (for instance new accounts that have posted only that image, or only up-vote such images with no other activity) couldn't harm either.

      The obvious conclusion is that, although FB execs make a big noise about cleaning up their site, they don't really care too much about removing the sort of content that is genuinely harmful. After all, if it draws traffic to their adverts, they're quids in.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        > ...right-wing propaganda...

        You may want to read this report far right networks of deception (link to avaaz.org). I found it pretty interesting even though much of it is just confirmation of what I did expect.

        1. Spangle

          You might want to read this

          https://www.rt.com/news/460010-avaaz-eu-elections-disinformation/

          Who funds them etc etc.

          Lot of propoganda out there

          1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Read the RT piece: not convinced. It even contains the "Soros is behind" scare.

            EDIT: just read some of the comments below the RT piece. Standard comments from the far right, including triple parens and crap like that.

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Why would I want to read something in RT? I might as well read press releases from Xinhua, or watch Fox News if I want obviously partisan propaganda.

            1. Spangle

              Well if you accept that every government spins a story to suit their own economic goals, then doesnt it make sense to read as many sides of the story as possible and the truth will sit somewhere in the middle.

              Huawaei as the example of the day. Read most western media and they include all sorts of dubious material as fact.

              Or iran

              Or countless other examples.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                I won't disagree with the idea of getting a plurality of viewpoints, but you have to be able to determine which are reliable, fact-based (without too much cherry-picking) ones, and which are distortions, rhetoric, and lies.

                As for Huawei [sp], I have read plenty of articles pointing uot the US Gov't's double-standards here, especially with regards to Cisco. It doesn't take a genius to read between the lines and see that the real motive for the US isn't to stop suspect hardware from snooping on people (especially in a targeted way), but to (continue to) control it.

                The tl;dr; here is that you shouldn't trust any hardware manufacturer that may have vested interests, either at a state-actor level, or merely for good ol' fashioned criminal purposes.

              2. e^iπ+1=0

                Grauniad?

                "Read most western media and they include all sorts of dubious material as fact."

                Typos - yeah!

                ... Or Daily Fail?

      2. AK565

        While I agree it's trivial for a moderator to fact check as suggested above, you will be unlikely to find one who can do so competently for $22/hour. You could probably find some for double that, with the proviso that said moderator could log in from literally anywhere, at any time and work for as long or short a duration as he pleases. This assumes full benefits are offered. If it's done 1099-style, as an independent contractor you'd likely need to triple FB's offering.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        ...and here we go, they're still at it:

        Facebook leaves fake Nancy Pelosi video on site

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        For instance, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the exact same right-wing propaganda posted in forums.

        Probably about as much as you've seen left-wing propoganda?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EPA

    I thought that almost all Facebook posts were rodent excrement

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: EPA

      Don't you mean bovine?

  5. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Let me correct that for you

    Article: Facebook expects toxic content will always be a part of its service.

    Let me correct that for you: Facebook expects toxic content will always be its service.

    Facebook and friends aren't good for you. What you see is a heavily processed version of reality. It's a bit like asking Republicans what they think of a Clinton or Coastal/Urban/New-Englander/Techie-types what they think of president Trump.

    They rob your attention, give you the impression that you have friends (or even an audience) not to mention teh massive amount of personal data they hoover up for their profits, not yours.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like!

    Of course I like it - that's why I click the like button.

    What do I like? Fuck knows, but if I did like _anything_ then I'd want them to know about it in order that they can profile me.

    Sad face because 97.5% of the new accounts I created yesterday were declared fake within 90 minutes, after a mere 1000 ad clicks each. Need to train the ai algorithms better ftw.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proactive bot detection

    For some reason FarceBook think I am a bot, they have blocked or shut down every attempt I have made to open an account; even after providing a phone number - which they immediately started bombarding with spam.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proactive bot detection

      Try harder!

      My algorithm has a 2.5% success rate. Maybe you're getting those phone numbers from the wrong vendors?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Proactive bot detection

      "they have blocked or shut down every attempt I have made to open an account"

      That doesn't sound like a cause for complaint.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Proactive bot detection

        Same experience. No, I do not think I'm missing out too much.

  8. Chris the bean counter

    Verify users

    Social media sites above a certain size should be forced to verify user ID. (Good for targeted advertising too).

    The poster could still remain anonymous to the public.

    When people know they can be identified they are far more careful what they post and also reduces ease of creating fake accounts.

    Could have a getout clause for people living in dictatorships with caveat that they have a limited distribution for posts to prevent a loophole being exploited.

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: Verify users

      >Social media sites above a certain size should be forced to verify user ID. (Good for targeted advertising too).

      The poster could still remain anonymous to the public.<

      Are you honestly that naive?

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Verify users

      @Chris the bean counter: "The poster could still remain anonymous to the public."

      Hey, there's this thing at your fingertips,.... it's an Internet connected device, it allows you access to the largest source of information ever known to humankind, and if you looked in the right places, you'd see stories like this:

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/21/facebook_passwords/

      Where Facebook stored passwords in plain text. Oh, you don't have to go far for that one,.. it's here! Plus you might see other stories about zero day exploits in server OSs,.... hardwired creds in Cisco gear, Web site vulnerabilities, thanks to compromised #include functions. You'd know that sharing personal data to the Internet has an inherent risk. Which is why if you want to be able to talk openly and honestly, anonymity is the thing that enables that.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Verify users

      "Social media sites above a certain size should be forced to verify user ID. (Good for targeted advertising too)."

      See, THAT is the reason there are so many 'fake' accounts. because when you log in to view a site, there's a record of YOU viewing the site. So if you want some anonymity, you create a FAKE ACCOUNT and then view the site. And then you forget you created it, what the password is, etc. because you used one of those '10 minute e-mail' services to create the login anyway...

      FB's own policies have CREATED that problem.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More than 2.2 billion fake accounts were removed in the quarter

    Does this mean that Zuckerborg will refund a percentage of money spent on advertising?

    No?

    Good!

    F*ck them too!

    Donate the refunds to Max Schrems.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: More than 2.2 billion fake accounts were removed in the quarter

      as already mentioned, I bet a bunch of those fake accounts were created so people could view things on FB without being tracked...

      Just do a one-time e-mail/password verification via a '10 minute e-mail' service. voila! Then, view whatever content you might want to view [do informal background checks on new girlfriend for example, using a public wifi] and nobody will ever know it was you...

  10. Aynon Yuser

    Being on Facebook would be like sleeping on a cat piss soaked mattress

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Oh come on!! It isnt THAT nice!!.

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