Cabaero: Facebook fake accounts

Beyond 30

IT WASN’T the first time Facebook deleted accounts it found to be fake or that showed “coordinated inauthentic behavior” (CIB).

Facebook started its cleanup when it got criticized for allowing abuse, hate language, disinformation and manipulation of data on its platform. Critics said Facebook should do more than excuse itself as a mere platform without responsibility for what people posted on it. Thus, the social media company began a cleanup.

But it appears that the cleanup is never enough as other fake accounts get created to replace those deleted, needing another round of cleansing.

In the Philippines, Facebook has taken action on several accounts prior to its decision last week to remove from its platform one network violating its policy against CIB.

It said in a Sept. 22, 2020 announcement that the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing. “When we investigate and remove these operations, we focus on behavior rather than content, no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook head of security policy, said.

Gleicher said Facebook removed 155 accounts, 11 Pages, 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts for violating its “policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.”

The Philippine accounts, he said, usually targeted “communism, youth activists and opposition, the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.” Gleicher added during follow-up interviews that the Philippine network is linked to the Philippine military and police.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police were quick to deny links to those accounts and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque called on Facebook to “exercise prudence” in removing these accounts so it would not be accused of bias.

This is not the first time and it surely won’t be the last that Facebook will remove fake accounts in an effort to rid the platform of “inauthentic behavior.” There appears to be no end to the use of Facebook to further unethical and illegal activities until the social media giant improved algorithms and artificial intelligence systems and tightened processes to prevent misuse. Until then, its cleanup of fake accounts will never end.

It would help, too, if the government were to come up with administrative orders stopping offices and employees from the illegal use of the social media platform. We saw how trolls and robots were used to promote messages during past elections. It is not surprising that others will do the same through tricks made possible on Facebook.


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