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New algorithm may help locate fake Facebook and Twitter accounts

Using the meta-features, the researchers, constructed a generic classifier that can detect fake profiles

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Facebook updated its advertising policy page with examples of what kinds of firearm ads are and aren't allowed on the platform under the changed policy, which will come into effect from June 21.
Facebook has updated its advertising policy to prohibit ads for weapon accessories to users under the age of 18, Pixabay
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Scientists have developed a new generic algorithm based on machine-learning to detect fake accounts on social network platforms including Facebook and Twitter, an advance with considerable potential for applications in the cyber-security arena.

“With recent disturbing news about failures to safeguard user privacy, and targeted use of social media to influence elections, rooting out fake users has never been of greater importance,” said lead researcher Dima Kagan from the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel.

The icon of Facebook.
Facebook has many fake profiles. Pixabay

The study showed that the algorithm is generic, and efficient both in revealing fake users and in disclosing the influential people in social networks. “Overall, the results demonstrated that in a real-life friendship scenario we can detect people who have the strongest friendship ties as well as malicious users, even on Twitter,” the researchers said.

Based on machine-learning algorithms, the new method, detailed in the journal Social Network Analysis and Mining, works on the assumption that fake accounts tend to establish improbable links to other users in the networks.

Also Read: Facebook Rolls Out Fact-Checking News In Karnataka

It constructs a link prediction classifier that can estimate, with high accuracy, the probability of a link existing between two users. It also generates a new set of meta-features based on the features created by the link prediction classifier.

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Fake accounts on Twitter will be identifie too. VOA

Using the meta-features, the researchers, constructed a generic classifier that can detect fake profiles in a variety of online social networks. “We tested our algorithm on simulated and real-world data sets on 10 different social networks and it performed well on both,” Kagan said.

Previously, researchers from the BGU had developed the Social Privacy Protector (SPP) to help users evaluate their friends list in seconds to identify which have few or no mutual links and might be “fake” profiles. IANS

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Tech Giants to join Data Transfer Project (DTP) To Help Users Manage Data

The Data Transfer Project uses services' existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service's API.

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According to Google, the project will let users "transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it". (Wikimedia Commons)

To help billions of users manage their data and help them transfer that into and out of online services without privacy issues, four tech giants — Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter — on Friday announced to join the open source initiative called Data Transfer Project (DTP).

In the early stages at the moment, the Data Transfer Project will help users of one service to use their data to sign up for another service with encryption.

“Using your data from one service when you sign up for another still isn’t as easy as it should be. Today we’re excited to announce that we’re participating in the Data Transfer Project,” said Steve Satterfield, Privacy and Public Policy Director at Facebook in a statement.

The initiative comes at a time when data-sharing is making headlines — be it the massive Cambridge Analytica data scandal or third-party apps accessing users’ data at various platforms — amid countries announcing new data-protection laws like the European General Data Regulation Protection (GDPR).

Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently and uses different types of data that may require unique privacy controls and settings.

“For example, you might use an app where you share photos publicly, a social networking app where you share updates with friends, and a fitness app for tracking your workouts,” said Satterfield.

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Moving data between any two services can be complicated because every service is built differently. Pixabay

“These are the kinds of issues the Data Transfer Project will tackle. The Project is in its early stages, and we hope more organisations and experts will get involved,” he added.

The Data Transfer Project uses services’ existing APIs and authorisation mechanisms to access data. It then uses service specific adapters to transfer that data into a common format, and then back into the new service’s API.

According to Google, the project will let users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it”.

The tech giants also released a white paper on this project.

“The future of portability will need to be more inclusive, flexible, and open. Our hope for this project is that it will enable a connection between any two public-facing product interfaces for importing and exporting data directly,” read the white paper.

According to Damien Kieran, Data Protection Officer at Twitter, right now, much of the online products and services we use do not interact with each other in a coherent and intuitive fashion.

“Information that is housed on one platform cannot be easily and securely transferred to other services. This is not a positive collective experience for the people who use our services and we are keen to work through some of the challenges as an industry,” Twitter said.

Also Read-Google, Facebook Have Been Using “Dark Patterns”: Report

The Data Transfer Project was formed in 2017 to create an open-source, service-to-service data portability platform so that all individuals across the web could easily move their data between online service providers whenever they want. (IANS)