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Here’s How Facebook Identifies ‘Inauthentic Behaviour’

To ensure that we stay ahead, we’ve invested heavily in better technology and more people.

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Fake News, Facebook, dating
Intel, Facebook working on cheaper AI chip. VOA

Facebook announced Friday that it had removed 82 Iranian-linked accounts on Facebook and Instagram. A Facebook spokesperson answered VOA’s questions about its process and efforts to detect what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by accounts pretending to be U.S. and U.K. citizens and aimed at U.S. and U.K. audiences.

Q: Facebook’s post says there were 7 “events hosted.” Any details about where, when, who?

A: Of seven events, the first was scheduled for February 2016, and the most recent was scheduled for June 2018. One hundred and ten people expressed interest in at least one of these events, and two events received no interest. We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred. Some appear to have been planned to occur only online. The themes are similar to the rest of the activity we have described.

Q: Is there any indication this was an Iranian government-linked program?

A: We recently discussed the challenges involved with determining who is behind information operations. In this case, we have not been able to determine any links to the Iranian government, but we are continuing to investigate. Also, Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab has shared their take on the content in this case here.

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Iranians surf the internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, Sept, 17, 2013. In Iran, a government push for a ‘halal’ internet means more control after protests.. VOA

Q: How long was the time between discovering this and taking down the pages?

A: We first detected this activity one week ago. As soon as we detected this activity, the teams in our elections war room worked quickly to investigate and remove these bad actors. Given the elections, we took action as soon as we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with U.S. and U.K. government officials, U.S. law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Q: How have you improved the reporting processes in the past year to speed the ability to remove such content?

A: Just to clarify, today’s takedown was a result of our teams proactively discovering suspicious signals on a page that appeared to be run by Iranian users. From there, we investigated and found the set of pages, groups and accounts that we removed today.

To your broader question on how we’ve improved over the past two years: To ensure that we stay ahead, we’ve invested heavily in better technology and more people. There are now over 20,000 people working on safety and security at Facebook, and thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence we detect many fake accounts, the root cause of so many issues, before they are even created. We’re also working more closely with governments, law enforcement, security experts and other companies because no one organization can do this on its own.

Facebook, Child nudity
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Q: How many people do you have monitoring content in English now? In Persian?

A: We have over 7,500 content reviewers globally. We don’t provide breakdowns of the number of people working in specific languages or regions because that alone doesn’t reflect the number of people working to review content for a particular country or region at any particular time.

Q: How are you training people to spot this content? What’s the process?

A: To be clear, today’s takedown was the result of an internal investigation involving a combination of manual work by our teams of skilled investigators and data science teams using automated tools to look for larger patterns to identify potentially inauthentic behavior. In this case, we relied on both of these techniques working together.

Also Read: Social Media Advertising in 2019: Staying Ahead of The Curve

On your separate question about training content reviewers, here is more on our content reviewers and how we support them.

Q: Does Facebook have any more information on how effective this messaging is at influencing behavior?

A: We aren’t in a position to know. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers Associate Social Media Use to Eating Disorder in Adolescents

Social media use linked to eating disorder in children

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Eating disorder due to social media
Excessive use of Social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat is linked with eating disorder among children. Pixabay

Parents, take a note. Researchers have found that excessive use of social media, particularly platforms with a strong focus on image posting and viewing such as Snapchat and Instagram, is associated with eating disorder in young adolescents.

For the study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers examined data on 996 grade 7 and 8 adolescents.

“While a range of studies have focused on the impact of social media on body image, this is the first to examine the relationship between specific social media platforms and disordered eating behaviours and thoughts,” said study lead author Simon Wilksch from Flinders University in Australia.

Also, most other studies had focused on older adolescents or young-adult women, he said.

Eating disorder in teenagers
Adolescents develop eating disorder due to meal skipping. Pixabay

The study on associations between disordered eating and social media use among young adolescent girls and boys suggested that much more needed to be done to increase resilience in young people to become less adversely impacted by social media pressures, Wilksch added.

During the study, the research team found behaviours related to disordered eating were reported by 51.7 per cent of girls and 45 per cent of boys, with strict exercise and meal skipping being the most common.

Of these, 75.4 per cent girls and 69.9 per cent boys had at least one social media account, and Instagram was the most common.

Also Read- Fake News Spreads Like Wildfire On Social Media

According to the study, greater number of social media accounts and greater time spent on them were associated with a higher likelihood of disordered eating, thoughts and behaviours.

The researchers are launching an Australia-wide trial of the Media Smart Online programme designed to combat such pressures. (IANS)