Facebook tackles fake news bots

Facebook has recently removed 500 pages and accounts allegedly over peddling fake news in the Central European, Ukrainian and other Eastern European nations. A Facebook blog said that these efforts were made to end the activities of two separate groups that manipulated people.

It was reported that the accounts had more than 900,000 followers and the groups had spent over $160,000 in advertisements. According to the blog, the actions were on two separate campaigns that were "engaging in co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour".

Facebook also indicated that these accounts were loosely connected to Russian state groups to push fake news. These pages regularly posted independent news sources and put out information about a range of subjects such as on weather, travel, sports, economics and politics. These pages also wrote about protest movements, anti-Nato sentiment and anti-corruption efforts.

In the blog, Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cyber-security policy at Facebook said: "We're taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they post.”

It was reported that the largest group of pages and accounts were incidentally located in Russia. However, it targeted its content across most nations and regions in Eastern Europe. Besides, the type of information that was spread and the tactics used "shared characteristics" with the campaigns run by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Mr Glenicher also indicated those who were responsible for these acts were “determined and well-funded”. He also said that "We constantly have to improve to stay ahead."

Assessment

Our assessment is that efforts taken by Facebook would is still too fitful to make a serious dent against the proliferation of alternate facts. We believe that Facebook has a social responsibility to educate and make people aware of the disastrous impact of misinformation.