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Facebook tears down thousands of ‘fake’ profiles

FILE - Facebook has torn down “tens of thousands” of profiles, pages and groups. In this Monday, June 4, 2012 file photo, a girl looks at Facebook on her computer in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

FILE - Facebook has torn down “tens of thousands” of profiles, pages and groups. In this Monday, June 4, 2012 file photo, a girl looks at Facebook on her computer in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Published Apr 19, 2022

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Johannesburg - Meta-owned social network Facebook said it had torn down “tens of thousands” of profiles, pages and groups to rid the platform of “inauthentic behaviour”.

In the first quarterly report by the social platform for 2022, Facebook said it took down scores of profiles that engaged in content distribution for inflated engagement, referred to as inauthentic behaviour.

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“Inauthentic behaviour is typically designed to mislead people about who is behind an operation to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal and is primarily centred around amplifying and increasing content distribution,” Facebook said in its report.

The platform added that inauthentic behaviour is not always but can be financially motivated, sharing many of its characteristics and tactics with spam and scam activity. Of course, the agenda behind inauthentic behaviour then lends itself to fake news, which shares the same characteristics.

“We rely on a range of enforcement levers against inauthentic behaviour from warnings, to reducing the distribution of content, to removing actors and clusters of activity from our platform,” the social network said.

In recent years, inauthentic behaviour has become rife across all popular social networks, and those behind it tend to focus on quantity rather than the quality of engagement.

Facebook also mentioned that the trend noted by culprits of the errand activity also shared trends noted on other platforms. Users recreate accounts once removed to repeat inauthentic behaviour.

“They may also try to monetise people’s attention by either driving them to off-platform websites filled with ads or selling t-shirts and other goods. In response to detection and removals, they typically try to reconstitute their activity aggressively,” the social network said.

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IOL reported that the Durban-based eThekwini municipality had warned the public about a fake Facebook account masquerading itself as that of the municipality while spreading misinformation.

The fake account does not feature municipal content and carries trending news. | Facebook

The authentic municipal Facebook page has garnered over 355 000 followers, posting relevant news to the municipality’s residents, versus the fake page, which had been posting irrelevant news content.

In addition to this, in February, this year, deputy mayor Philani Mavundla used his own Facebook page to warn users of a fake profile using his identity while posting vacancies for cleaning jobs.

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The trend of creating fake profiles or those imitating original ones, like the municipality and the deputy mayor’s account, is not new.

Prominent South African figures and celebrities have fallen victim to the trend, with new profiles created every day.

On Facebook and Instagram, scores of profiles have been created using the identity of famous local musician Cassper Nyovest, as an example.

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Scores of profiles imitating the artist exist on both Meta social networks, making it sometimes difficult to differentiate them from the original profile, aside from the verification badge present on his original profile.

IOL Wealth

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