As part of its ongoing effort to address serious concerns about user safety and security, Facebook this week announced a widespread purge of pages deemed to be in violation of its terms of services.
The move was announced on Tuesday in a blog post by Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s head of cybersecurity policy.
In explaining the decision to erase thousands of pages, he cited the importance of making sure “the conversations taking place on our service every day are authentic.”
Facebook has announced previous efforts to combat bad actors on the platform following an array of troubling reports of improper data sharing and Russian hackers attempting to influence the U.S. electoral system.
“As part of our broader efforts to prevent abuse and ensure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, we recently took down more than 10,000 fake Pages, Groups and accounts in Mexico and across Latin America because they violated our Community Standards,” Gleicher wrote. “The content we’ve found broke our policies on coordinated harm and inauthentic behavior, as well as attacks based on race, gender or sexual orientation.”
Declaring that there is “no place on Facebook for this kind of behavior,” he added that Facebook is exploring other methods for addressing potentially harmful content.
“For example, we took down 837 million pieces of spam and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech and disabled 583 million fake accounts globally in the first quarter of 2018 — much of it before anyone reported the issue to Facebook,” he wrote.
While many see Facebook’s efforts as a step in the right direction for the beleaguered social media titan, others are concerned the recent purge could be a signal that the company could use similar actions to wipe out unpopular political or religious views.
“The phrase ‘attacks based on race, gender or sexual orientation’ leaves a lot of room for interpretation and Facebook has not been forthcoming about exactly what speech is not permitted,” wrote PJ Media‘s Paula Bolyard. “Can we discuss race at all on Facebook anymore or are all such conversations considered an ‘attack’? Are discussions and comments about sexual ethics off the table? Is every guy who complains about women going to be dumped by Facebook?”
Though his blog post dealt in generalities regarding the types of abusive behavior and overall efforts to combat it, Gleicher confirmed Facebook will be “using technology like machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer vision” to “proactively detect bad actors and take action more quickly.”
He noted that the timing of the company’s latest efforts were coordinated to address issues ahead of midterm elections later this year in the U.S.
“This kind of action is especially important in the run-up to elections, when people use Facebook to connect with candidates, debate hard issues, and get information about the decisions they face,” he wrote. “It’s why we’ve been working so hard to prevent election interference by doubling down on fake accounts that spread misinformation; working with third-party fact-checkers to stop the spread of false news; and making advertising much more transparent.”
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