Facebook is taking a tougher approach to shutting down coordinated groups of real user accounts that engage in certain malicious activities across its platform, using the same strategy that its security teams use against campaigns using fake accounts. The new approach uses tactics typically used by company security teams to shut down networks involved in influence operations that use fake accounts to manipulate public debate.
This could have major implications for how the social media giant deals with political and other coordinated movements that violate its rules, at a time when its approach to abuses across its platforms is under intense scrutiny from global lawmakers and civil society groups.
The company said that it now plans to take the same approach network-wide with groups of coordinated real accounts that systematically violate its rules, through mass reporting, as many users falsely report the content or account of the target to be closed or manipulated, a type of harassment via The Internet where users can coordinate to target an individual through mass posts or comments.
In a related change, the company said it takes the same kind of approach to real user campaigns. that cause coordinated social harm on and off their platforms. It also announced the removal of the German Querdenken movement.
These expansions, which a spokeswoman said are in their early stages, meaning Facebook's security teams can identify the underlying movements driving such behavior. and taking more comprehensive action than the Company would remove individual posts or accounts as it might otherwise.
In April, a leaked internal report emerged from Facebook about its role in the riots at the Capitol. The report outlined the challenges the company is facing in reining in the fast-growing Stop the Steal movement. One result was that Facebook had few policies around real coordinated harm.
Facebook security experts began cracking down on influence operations using fake accounts in 2017. This followed the 2016 US election, in which US intelligence officials concluded that Russia used social media platforms as part of a cyber influence campaign.