Facebook and the fight against fake news


Facebook has just released guide to fake news in the US. The security improvement was described as being part of a broader effort to rid the leading social network of hoaxes, misinformation and fake news by verifying people's identities.
In the wake of the 2016 United States presidential election, the concept of “fake news”, i.e. articles that make up or extremely exaggerate information, came into the spotlight.
Many critics of President Donald Trump said that fake news supporting him and demeaning his rival Hillary Clinton assisted him in his victory.
Trump, on the other hand, has called mainstream news outlets like CNN and The New York Times “fake news” for reporting on various subjects, like connections between his campaign team and the Russian government.
Many have demanded that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter do more to present the spread of hoaxes, but other calls against censorship have left the companies in a difficult situation.
Facebook on Friday said it disrupted an international fake account operation that was firing off inauthentic "likes" and bogus comments to win friends it would then pound with spam.
Facebook's security team spent six months fighting to neutralize what they saw as a coordinated campaign, according to Shabnam Shaik, a company security manager.
"Our systems were able to identify a large portion of this illegitimate activity -- and to remove a substantial number of inauthentic likes," Shaik said in a blog post.
"By disrupting the campaign now, we expect that we will prevent this network of spammers from reaching its end goal of sending inauthentic material to large numbers of people."
The ring used accounts in a number of countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
The group tried to mask its activities with tactics like connecting with the social network through "proxy" servers to disguise where "likes," posts or other communications were originating, according to Shaik.
Facebook said the campaign aimed to trick people into connecting as friends they would later target with spam. The company said it had derailed the operation early enough to spare users that fate.
The leading social network this week said it has started weeding out bogus accounts by watching for suspicious behavior such as repetitive posts or torrents of messages.
"We've found that when people represent themselves on Facebook the same way they do in real life, they act responsibly," Shaik said.
"Fake accounts don't follow this pattern, and are closely related to the creation and spread of spam."
Under pressure to stymie the spread of fake news, Facebook has taken a series of steps including making it easier to report such posts and harder to earn money from them.

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