Facebook announces victory over a spam operation after six months of combat

Facebook proudly announced today that it has — it thinks — put an end to the nefarious doings of a “sophisticated,” “coordinated operation” that has been spamming the site for the last six months.

In a blog post, Facebook’s security team suggested the “inauthentic likes” came from accounts in “Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries.” That narrows it down! Actually, it sounds pretty smart: The accounts would appear, like a few pages, spam them, then fall silent. Proxies and other means were taken to make it seem that these fake accounts weren’t centrally administrated — which, of course, they were.

As far as volume, the post scrupulously avoids real numbers:

As we remove the rest of the inauthentic likes, we expect that 99% of impacted Pages with more than 10,000 likes will see a drop of less than 3%.

If you can figure out what that means, feel free to comment below. What about the fake likes and accounts removed before now? How many pages were affected? Are pages with fewer likes affected less, or more? Are there other networks currently being fought in similar ways, and, if so, what kind of drops should we expect when those get rolled up?

No doubt this is good news for everyone, but I can’t help but get the same feeling from Facebook here that I get from Twitter when it dances around the numbers of bots and spammers on its network. The numbers will be high, of course, but even if they’re within reasonable limits, no user or investor likes to hear that there are 10, 20 or 100 million fake accounts or likes.

The dismantlement of this particular network comes hot on the heels of an announcement by the company earlier this week that it was stepping up its efforts against spam and fake news.