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Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts in three months

Technology

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(CNN) — Facebook took down 2.2 billion fake accounts between January and March, a record high for the company.

That number is only slightly less than the 2.38 billion monthly active users Facebook has around the world. For comparison, Facebook disabled 1.2 billion fake accounts in the previous quarter and 694 million between October and December 2017.

The new numbers were released Thursday in the company’s third Community Standards Enforcement report. Facebook will begin releasing this report quarterly starting next year, rather than twice a year, and start including Instagram.

“The health of the discourse is just as important as any financial reporting we do, so we should do it just as frequently,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call Thursday about the report.

In another blog post shared Thursday, Facebook VP of Analytics Alex Schultz explained some reasons behind the massive numbers. He said one factor is “simplistic” attacks, in which a person will make a hundred million fake accounts that are then taken down right away. Schultz says they are removed so fast that nobody is exposed to them and they aren’t included in active user counts.

“We’ve seen a steep increase in the creation of abusive, fake accounts on Facebook in the last six months. We catch most of these accounts within minutes of registration,” the company said in the report. “However, automated attacks have resulted in more of these accounts making it past our initial detection, which increased prevalence.”

The company said it estimates 25 of every 10,000 content views, such as watching a video or checking out a photo, on Facebook were of things that violated its violence and graphic content policies. Between 11 and 14 of every 10,000 content views violated its adult nudity and sexual activity policies.

Facebook is also shared for the first time its efforts to crack down on illegal sales of firearms and drugs on its platform.

It said it increased its proactive detection of both drugs and firearms. During the first quarter, its systems found and flagged 83.3% of violating drug content and 69.9% of violating firearm content, according to the report. Facebook said this occurred before users reported it.

Facebook’s policies says users, manufacturers or retailers cannot buy or sell non-medial drugs or marijuana on the platform. The rules also don’t allow users to buy, sell, trade or gift firearms on Facebook, including parts or ammunition.

In the report, the company also shared how much content its users appealed, and how much of it the social network restored. People have the option to appeal Facebook’s decisions, with the exception of content that is flagged for extreme safety concerns.

Between January and March, Facebook said it “took action” on 19.4 million pieces of content. The company said 2.1 million pieces of content were appealed. After the appeals, 453,000 pieces of content were restored.

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