Facebook has announced a relatively small but significant purge of bad actors from the platform: 810 pages and accounts that have “consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” It may not seem like a lot, but it sounds like the company is erring on the side of disclosure even if the news isn’t particularly hard-hitting.
These were not, as far as Facebook could tell, part of an organized nation-state effort or political interference campaign, like the Iranian and Russian groups previously highlighted in these ban alert posts. These are pages that use networks of fake accounts and pages to drive traffic to clickbait articles strictly for the purpose of ad revenue.
810 can’t be much more than a drop out of the bucket of fake accounts on Facebook — of which there are millions — but the company’s focus right now isn’t individual bad actors but coordinated ones.
A few hundred accounts working together to do a bit of ad fraud produces a sort of digital footprint that might look similar to a a few hundred accounts working together to push a political narrative or sow discontent. And one can turn into the other quite easily.
There are patterns of logins, likes, visits, account creation, and so on that Facebook has been working hard to identify — recently, at least. Although they’ve designed their net to catch the nation-state actors and large-scale operations that have previously been uncovered, small fry like these spammers are getting tangled up as well. Not a bad thing.
“Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action,” the company wrote on its blog.
No doubt they also want to give the impression that there is indeed a cop on the beat. Expect more announcements like this through the midterms as Facebook strives to make it clear that it is working round the clock to keep you, its valuable
product users, safe.