LONDON, April 13 Facebook said on
Thursday it is taking action against tens of thousands of fake
accounts in France as the social network giant seeks to
demonstrate it is doing more to halt the spread of spam as well
as fake news, hoaxes and misinformation.
The Silicon Valley-based company is under intense pressure
as governments across Europe threaten new laws unless Facebook
moves quickly to remove extremist propaganda or other content
illegal under existing regulation (reut.rs/2oBwHEO).
Social media sites including Twitter, Google's
YouTube and Facebook also are under scrutiny for their
potential to be used to manipulate voters in national elections
set to take place in France and Germany in coming months.
In a blog post, Facebook said it was taking action against
30,000 fake accounts in France, deleting them in some, but not
all, cases. It said its priority was to remove fake accounts
with high volumes of posting activity and the biggest audiences.
"We've made improvements to recognise these inauthentic
accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity —
without assessing the content itself," Shabnam Shaik, a Facebook
security team manager, wrote in an official blog post.
For example, the company said it is using automated
detection to identify repeated posting of the same content or an
increase in messages sent by such profiles.
Also on Thursday, Facebook took out full-page ads in
Germany's best-selling newspapers to educate readers on how to
spot fake news.
In April, the German cabinet approved proposed new laws to
force social networks to play a greater role in combating online
hate speech or face fines of up to 50 million euros ($53
These actions by Facebook follow moves the company has taken
in recent months to make it easier for users to report potential
fraud amid criticism of the social network's role in the spread
of hoaxes and fake news during the U.S. presidential elections.
It has also begun working with outside fact-checking
organisations to flag stories with disputed content, and removed
financial incentives that help spammers to cash in by generating
advertising revenue from clicks on false news stories.
($1 = 0.9409 euros)
(Reporting By Eric Auchard in London and Joseph Menn in San
Francisco; Editing by Susan Fenton)