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A Massive Number of Fake Facebook Accounts Have Been Taken Down This Year

Facebook says automated attacks have increased
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2019 4:04 PM CDT
Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, the Facebook developer conference, on April 30 in San Jose.   (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(Newser) – Facebook says it removed 2.19 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of the year—a total nearly as high as the number of monthly active users. About 1.2 billion accounts were taken down in the last quarter of 2018, Engadget reports. The company said in its Community Standards Enforcement Report, released Thursday, that the number of accounts disabled "increased due to automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time." Facebook estimates that 5% of its monthly active accounts aren't genuine, which would mean around 119 million fake accounts are currently live. The company's three-pronged strategy involves stopping accounts from being created, removing accounts as they're signed up, and taking down accounts already on Facebook.

The figures released mean that Facebook has taken down twice as many accounts in the past six months as it did in the previous six months. Facebook said it will release the enforcement report quarterly starting next year, per CNN, and that it will start including Instagram statistics. The report was previously issued twice a year. "The health of the discourse is just as important as any financial reporting we do," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters Thursday, "so we should do it just as frequently." Analytics VP Alex Schultz wrote in a blog post, per Engadget, that the emphasis should be on the accounts that made it through the controls. "We have two main goals with fake accounts: preventing abuse from fake accounts but also giving people the power to share through authentic accounts," he wrote. "We have to strike the right balance between these goals." (Facebook is bracing for a huge fine.)

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