The company classifies fake accounts into two types: abusive and under-misclassified

By Eric Todisco
November 14, 2019 10:16 AM
Valentin Wolf/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

Facebook has shut down 5.4 billion fake accounts so far in 2019, the social networking giant announced in its Community Standards Enforcement Report on Wednesday.

According to the data, approximately 5 percent of worldwide Facebook active users were identified as fake accounts throughout the year. The company said that they classify fake accounts into two types: abusive and under-misclassified.

Roughly 3.3 billion fake accounts were removed in all of 2018.

“Our goal is to remove as many fake accounts on Facebook as we can,” the company said. “We prioritize enforcement against users and accounts that seek to cause harm and find many of these fake accounts are used in spam campaigns and are financially motivated.”

Facebook also noted that they have improved their ability to discover and block attempts at creating fake and abusive accounts over the past two quarters.

“We can estimate that every day, we prevent millions of attempts to create fake accounts using these detection systems,” the company said. “Because we are blocking more attempts to create fake, abusive accounts before they are even created, there are fewer for us to disable and, thus, accounts actioned has declined since Q1 2019.”

FILE - In this May 16, 2012, file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Responding to criticism, Facebook says it will no longer allow advertisers to use ethnicity as a filter when it comes to targeting or hiding ads offering housing, employment or credit. The changes come after a report by ProPublica found that Facebook’s system lets advertisers exclude black, Hispanic or other so-called 'ethnic affinities’ from seeing their ads. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In March, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network would be making a shift toward becoming more “privacy-focused.

In his note — titled “A Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking” — Zuckerberg noted that he’s been focused on “addressing the biggest challenges facing Facebook” in the wake of numerous scandals, including a hack that exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users last fall.

“This means taking positions on important issues concerning the future of the internet. In this note, I’ll outline our vision and principles around building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform,” said Zuckerberg in the memo. “There’s a lot to do here, and we’re committed to working openly and consulting with experts across society as we develop this.”

Noting the current capabilities of both Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, Zuckerberg acquiesced that “people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”

“As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg explained. “Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”

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Noting that the shift was still in the “early stages,” Facebook is already committed to “consulting with experts, advocates, industry partners and governments” to get the platform “right.”

“At the same time, working through these principles is only the first step in building out a privacy-focused social platform,” said Zuckerberg. “Beyond that, significant thought needs to go into all of the services we build on top of that foundation.”

Last year, Zuckerberg testified before Congress, apologizing for Facebook reportedly sharing the information of 87 million users with the political research group Cambridge Analytica, a revelation first reported by The Observer and The New York Times. Cambridge Analytica worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

At the time, Zuckerberg admitted the company “didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well.”