Facebook purges 30,000 fake accounts ahead of French election

AP and WiG reports

In an effort to prevent faux news from influencing the presidential election in France, as it did in the United States, Facebook has purged 30,000 fake accounts tied to that country.

The purges were part of a Facebook resource to help stop the spread of fake news, hoaxes, and spam through fake accounts in 14 countries, including the U.S. and Germany.

European authorities have also pressured other social media companies like Twitter to remove extremist propaganda and postings that violate European hate speech laws.

“We’ve found that when people represent themselves on Facebook the same way they do in real life, they act responsibly,” the social media giant said in a statement.

“Fake accounts don’t follow this pattern,” the company said.

New technology allows the company to recognize “inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself,” like detecting “repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent,” according to the statement.

Facebook also has introduced a new educational tool to help users spot fake news stories posted to the social networking site. It leads users to a list of tips for spotting false information and how to report it

The company acknowledged that its efforts would not eliminate all misinformation and lies, but said it could eliminate those with largest footprint and broadest reach.

In a December statement, the company said that it will focus on the “worst of the worst” offenders and partner with outside fact-checkers and news organizations to sort honest news reports from made-up stories.

After facing harsh criticism for allowing the spread of outrageous lies about Hillary Clinton during the U.S. election, Facebook announced in December that it was launching an effort to prevent the replay of a scenario that’s believed by many Americans to have helped to elect Donald Trump.

French media, unlike American media, are also running fact-checking programs to counter false posts ahead of the two-round elections slated for April 23 to May 7. Eleven candidates, including far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, will be on the French ballot.