Monday September 23, 2019
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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

Snap Help US Anti-Trust Agency Into Facebook’s Business Practices

Facebook competitors like Snap are reportedly helping the US FTC as it launches an anti-trust investigation into the social networking giant's business practices

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Snapchat, Facebook, Anti-trust agency, agency, probe
Snap are reportedly helping the US FTC as it launches an anti-trust investigation into the social networking giant's business practices. Pixabay

Some Facebook competitors like Snap are reportedly helping the US FTC as it launches an anti-trust investigation into the social networking giant’s business practices.

According to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday, Snap which is the parent company of Snapchat, has created a dossier under “Project Voldemort” that apparently contains Facebook secrets.

“The files in ‘Project Voldemort’ chronicled Facebook’s moves that threatened to undermine Snap’s business, including discouraging popular account holders, or influencers, from referencing Snap on their Instagram accounts,” the report claimed.

Snap and Facebook share a bitter history, with the latter copying several of Snapchat-first features into its Instagram and other products.

From launching “Camera Effects Platform” to encourage augmented reality (AR) effects — a move reported by The New York Times as Facebook’s “brazen heist” over Snapchat – to adding Snapchat-style “Stories” and camera special effects in all its core social apps: Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, The Mark Zuckerberg-run company has done it all.

It is Snapchat which has popularised animated AR selfie masks and facial filters.

Facebook has also added Geostickers to Instagram, offering location-specific tags in two cities (New York City and Jakarta) that users can paste over images. Snapchat launched Geofilters back in 2014.

Snapchat, Facebook, Anti-trust agency, agency, probe
In a historic judgment, the US FTC in July slapped a massive $5 billion fine on Facebook over users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Pixabay

Originally launched by Snapchat, the “Stories” feature shows photos and videos shared in chronological order that disappear after 24 hours.

Facebook introduced something similar in its app Instagram.

Today, Messenger, WhatsApp and the main Facebook app have all added “Stories” feature (In WhatsApp, it is called ‘Status’).

According to the WSJ, the FTC has made contact with dozens of tech executives and app developers.

ALSO READ: Hypocrisies of Malala and her Party Exposed

In a historic judgment, the US FTC in July slapped a massive $5 billion fine on Facebook over users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) directing the social networking platform to pay $100 million penalty for making misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of user data.
Democrat Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon is even demanding jail term for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saying he should face serious consequences for letting his social media platform misuse consumers’ personal data. (IANS)