Facebook’s battle with fake news has been a prominent one as of late, and the site has taken a number of steps over recent weeks to help fight the spread of misinformation. They’re turning their attention to another battleground now though: what they call a more intricate “misuse” of the network.
An announcement from Facebook read, “We have had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people.”
In short, Facebook is taking steps to fight abuse in three main areas: people who create false accounts and pretend to be people a user knows to help spread misinformation, coordinated liking of a posts to promote a certain message, and creating groups to spread propaganda veiled as genuine information.
While Facebook initially said fake news had little to no bearing on public opinion, the site is doing an about face here, saying they realize people can misuse their network can to influence opinion or incite unrest.
So what is Facebook doing? To start, they’re improving detection (even adding machine learning) to suspend suspicious accounts. Of course, this means that legitimate organizations will lose some of their followers. When Facebook removed more than 30,000 fake accounts just prior to the French election, pages like The Guardian saw a drop in their likes, lessening their overall reach. Facebook argues that since those pages weren’t going to engage with content anyway, their loss is moot.
Any losses that pages see from this though, are likely to be short lived, as when a higher percentage of real people interact with content, it’ll be pushed higher. So this does seem like it’s a plus overall, but it’s worth nothing that there will be some short term effects.