Facebook deleted 583 million fake accounts in the first three months of 2018

That's more than a quarter of Facebook's 2.2 billion monthly active users.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
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Facebook deletes millions of accounts every day, the social network revealed.

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Facebook is in a state of constant deletion. 

The social network released its Community Standards Enforcement Report for the first time on Tuesday, detailing how many spam posts it's deleted and how many fake accounts it's taken down in the first quarter of 2018. In a blog post on Facebook, Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of product management, said the social network disabled about 583 million fake accounts during the first three months of this year -- the majority of which, it said, were blocked within minutes of registration.

That's an average of over 6.5 million attempts to create a fake account every day from Jan. 1 to March 31. Facebook boasts 2.2 billion monthly active users, and if Facebook's AI tools didn't catch these fake accounts flooding the social network, its population would have swelled immensely in just 89 days. 

Facebook has been dealing with mounting pressure from lawmakers and public opinion over how powerful it's become. In April, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, promising greater transparency and responsibility from the social network. Facebook has gone under intense scrutiny over issues of disinformation campaigns from Russian trolls, as well as a data scandal involving 87 million people

Fake and automated accounts plague other popular services too, including Twitter and YouTube. A Pew Research Center report in April said that two-thirds of tweeted links on Twitter came from bots, while a study last year from the University of Oxford showed that bots on social networks were a significant force in swaying political opinions

Rosen also said that Facebook blocks millions of fake account attempts every day from even attempting to register, but did not specify how many.

A key tool in the fight against fake accounts: artificial intelligence. But AI isn't perfect. While it blocked more than 500 million fake accounts, Facebook estimates that about 3 percent to 4 percent of accounts on the website are fake. 

Even at that low percentage, with Facebook's massive scale that's at least 66 million fake accounts hiding in plain sight on the social network. 

Facebook's AI also went after 837 million spam posts in the first quarter, nearly all of which it deleted before anyone reported the posts.

Some other stats from the first quarter of the year:  Facebook down 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity; took down or applied warning labels to about 3.5 million pieces of violent content; and removed 2.5 million pieces of hate speech.

The work won't be ending anytime soon -- if ever.

"We're up against sophisticated adversaries who continually change tactics to circumvent our controls, which means we must continuously build and adapt our efforts," Rosen said. "It's why we're investing heavily in more people and better technology."

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