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Facebook Says It Removed 1.3 Billion Fake Accounts, Explains How It Handles Misinformation

Brittany Jordan

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Facebook on March 22 issued an announcement on how it plans to combat misinformation on its platforms. The technology giant also said it took down 1.3 billion fake accounts between October and December last year.

“Tackling misinformation actually requires addressing several challenges including fake accounts, deceptive behavior, and misleading and harmful content,” wrote Guy Rosen, VP of Integrity at Facebook, in the statement.

After mentioning first how the company tackles fake accounts and deceptive behavior, Rosen went on to say that they have a group of “more than 80 independent fact-checkers, who review content in more than 60 languages,” and if they judge something as untrue, the content’s dissemination is limited.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies via video conference before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29, 2020. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via Reuters)

“When they rate something as false, we reduce its distribution so fewer people see it and add a warning label with more information for anyone who sees it,” Rosen wrote.

He also noted that once one of these labels is applied, the vast majority of people don’t click on the post.

“We know that when a warning screen is placed on a post, 95% of the time people don’t click to view it,” he said.

The company’s making public these policies comes before a U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce investigation into how tech platforms are tackling misinformation.

Rosen further wrote that Facebook suppresses the distribution of “Pages, Groups, and domains who repeatedly share misinformation,” with a particular emphasis on “false claims about COVID-19 and vaccines and content that is intended to suppress voting.”

Rosen said the platform uses both people and Artificial Intelligence to detect some of the activity they’re looking to combat, adding that they now have 35,000 people working on it.

“As a result, we’ve removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines,” he added.

Facebook Fact-Checker Funded by Chinese Money

While Facebook portrays its army of fact-checkers as independent, the money behind at least one carries a distinct taint.

Lead Stories is partly paid through a partnership with TikTok, a social media platform run by a Chinese company that owes its allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). TikTok currently is being probed by U.S. officials as a national security threat.

Moreover, the organization that’s supposed to oversee the quality of fact-checkers is run by Poynter Institute, another TikTok partner.

Lead Stories says it’s been contracted by ByteDance “for fact-checking-related work,” referring to TikTok’s announcement earlier this year that it has partnered with several organizations “to further aid our efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation,” particularly regarding the CCP virus pandemic, which originated in China and was exacerbated by the CCP regime’s coverup.

Lead Stories was started in 2015 by Belgian website developer Maarten Schenk, CNN veteran Alan Duke, and two lawyers from Florida and Colorado. It listed operating expenses of less than $50,000 in 2017, but had expanded sevenfold by 2019, largely because of the more than $460,000 Facebook paid it for fact-checking services in 2018 and 2019. The company took on more than a dozen staffers, about half of them CNN alumni, and became one of Facebook’s most prolific fact-checkers of U.S. content.

This year, the funding sources included Google, Facebook, ByteDance, and several online advertising services. Advertising brought it less than $25,000 last year, the group said.

“The bulk” of the funding still comes from Facebook, it says.

Petr Svab contributed to this report. 

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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