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Facebook Removed 2.2 Billion Fake Accounts This Year. It Only Has 2.38 Billion Active Users

Facebook released its community standards enforcement report Thursday morning, offering a much more in-depth look at the inner workings of the company than previously seen.

One of the most surprising insights came from Facebook’s removal of fake accounts. The company said it removed 2.2 billion accounts in the first quarter of the 2019. That’s a jump of nearly double compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 when 1.2 billion accounts were removed.

That number seems astronomical, especially when considering that Facebook says it has 2.38 billion monthly active users overall. The reason that the social network can boast nearly as many removals as it has active users is that it typically finds and removes bogus accounts within minutes of them signing up. As a result, Facebook estimates that only 5% of its monthly active users are fake.

However, this rise in fake Facebook accounts is certainly alarming. Facebook attributes it to an increase in automated attacks, which means more fake accounts are making it past the company’s initial detection, though the report did not offer any further specifics. As such, the 2.2 billion figure does not include accounts that were prevented from registering.

There were also accounts that weren’t just flagged as fake, but also engaged in “abusive behavior.”

Hate speech is rising on Facebook, the social media site seems to be getting better at catching it. The percentage of cases where Facebook caught and removed hate speech before it was reported by users has increased over the last year, though it’s still only at about 65% as of the last quarter.

That’s not universal, though. When it comes to bullying and harassment, a vast majority of cases are only removed after it’s already been flagged by a user. That hasn’t seen much improvement either, though data is limited.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with other social media company heads, have said they plan to increase automatic detection of violations. By using an algorithm instead of waiting for someone to report the content, it can be easier to remove before someone has to see it. But clearly there’s still a lot of work to do.

The report is a step in the right direction for Facebook—not only in acknowledging the outcry from its users, but also to stave off the threat of government regulation.