Facebook removes pages, outlines the evolution of spam

Facebook is removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have broken its rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. According to a blogpost by Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy and Oscar Rodriguez, product manager one common type of spam in the past were posts that hawked fraudulent products such as fake sunglasses or weight loss “remedies”.

Today this has evolved to people creating networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posting clickbait content on these Pages. This is in a bid to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms.  The statement added:

The bulk of the inauthentic activity seen on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics.

Facebook added that these people behind the activity also post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites. They often use their fake accounts to generate fake likes and shares. This artificially inflates engagement for their inauthentic Pages and the posts they share, misleading people about their popularity and improving their ranking in News Feed.

Topics such as natural disasters or celebrity gossip have been popular ways to generate clickbait. But today, these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site. And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the “news” stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate.

“This activity goes against what people expect on Facebook, and it violates our policies against spam. This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior – such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam – rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove,” the statement added.