Earlier this year I wrote an article entitled “How Bots Build Political Empires,” explaining how hackers regularly create fake accounts or bots in an effort to shape dialogue/rapport online, increase revenue for pay-per-click advertising websites or make politicians and their policies appear more popular/unpopular in public than they really are. In the article I addressed how Twitter had recently came out with an announcement explaining that 15% of all accounts on their service, roughly 48 million accounts to be more exact, were fake and/or just bots.
At the time, in March of 2017, in response to Twitters announcement earlier that month, I had remarked that “Believe me, Twitter is certainly not alone. If Twitter has 48 million of these things then I am willing to bet Facebook has hundreds of millions of them crawling around their web service.” Now, I pride myself on being the smartest man in every room I step into, but even I was surprised to read last week, in November of 2017, that Facebook now admits that more than 270 million accounts on their service are also fake – #calledit!
Facebook reveals that its 270 million accounts are fakes or duplicateshttps://t.co/BIEa7fVm7F
— Techworm (@Techworm_in) November 3, 2017
The stunning self realizations are part of a quarterly report released by the company earlier this month. According to estimations directly from Facebook, of the nearly 2.1 billion accounts currently active on their service, at least 270 million of them are either bots, fake, duplicates or illegitimate.
Breaking down the statistics further, from the beginning of 2016 to November 2017, Facebook estimates that the number of fake accounts on their service has increased anywhere from 200-300%. The company also says that roughly 10% of all the traffic on their platform currently comes from these fake accounts, and that this figure is up from 6% at the beginning of 2017. This indicates that not only has the problem gotten worse, but the company has yet to even get a handle on the situation.
With that said, as was reported by Business Insider earlier this month, the company is taking new steps and has actively begun working on new solutions to solve the problem going forward in the future. This includes halting ad revenue/services from unverified accounts posting politically charged material, money that the company used to blindly accept. To this effect, after their quarterly report was released, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was also quoted as saying that “We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”
Read More – Who’s More To Blame for The Spread of Propaganda Online, Russians or American Corporate Greed: https://legacymedi4.com/2017/09/07/whos-more-to-blame-for-russian-advertising-successes/
As for why so many fake accounts have been created and why all of this information is just coming out for the first time now, look no further than Russia and all of the controversy surrounding the 2016 US Presidential election. Faced with growing pressure from both the House and Senate investigations into Russian meddling, Facebook has been forced to confront this issue head on and publicly hand over company data and records. It is no coincidence that Facebook publicly released this information less than two weeks after testifying in front of the US Senate Intelligence Committee and releasing some of the advertisements bought by Russian actors on their service in the months leading up to the election. Consequentially enough, as you might then expect, Russia or Russian hackers are also believed to have been behind at least a large percentage of the fake accounts now identified on Facebook‘s network.
It is also important to note that it is not just the Russian Government doing this, both the FBI and US Department of Defense are also known to utilize fake accounts online for counter-terrorism investigations and to combat crime. It is not uncommon for US Government employees or members of the US intelligence community to use fake accounts or use extreme language online in an attempt to attract or uncover real extremists around society, so that these types of people can be put on federal watch-lists. As I have also written, random hackers with no affiliation to any countries Government are the primary culprits behind these accounts, usually hired by affluent investors to go behind the scenes and “sling mud” towards their political rivals online. You can read more about these fake accounts, how they are created and why they are so widely used below.
Categories: Hacking News