In previous months, much has been said about false news on Facebook. However, little has been said about how lax the social media company has been when it comes to reporting fraud, identity theft and many other cybercrimes that are being carried out on the platform. What’s even more concerning is that apparently, no one has come up with an effective control or mechanism for reporting them.
As a pillar of the social media landscape, one would think that Facebook would make online safety a top priority. However, given that we’re still seeing the same problems that plagued the social platform media in 2010, it’s very difficult to make the argument that the company is serious about fighting the issues that threaten the behemoth’s reputation, one small cut at a time.
The turbulent 2016 American election cast a glaring spotlight on Facebook’s fake news problem. In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s win, what was once seen as a fringe issue was suddenly being touted as a major deciding factor in a highly controversial presidential election. To make matters worse for Facebook, fake news has played a major role in the controversy surrounding possible Russian interference in the election, with accusations of fake story planting coming from Russian sources to discredit and harm Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign.
While it would seem logical that Facebook looks for ways to curb and control fake news on their network in the face of these high-profile controversies, the fact remains that the social media giant hasn’t made significant grounds in their fight to curb the flow of fake news, along with many other issues plaguing their platform.
Partnering with Media Matters to Fight Fake News?
Recent reports highlighting the collaboration between Facebook and Media Matters – a liberal media watchdog – have conservative punditry up in arms. But is there merit to their claims? Although not much is known about how the two organizations intend to address the problem, the fact that meetings between Facebook management and the media think tank have taken place under a veil of secrecy isn't reassuring.
Furthermore, although it is widely known that many fake news stories did come from alt-right and right-leaning fake news sites, why heighten the divide by colluding with a partisan organization?
Duplicate Accounts Touting ‘Verified’ Badges
One of the most high-profile cases is the duplication of the Reggaetón singer, Ozuna. In his case, someone created a duplicate Facebook account which was created to trick visitors into believing it was the real page. In the end, it was discovered but not before costing the singer and several discotheques several thousand dollars. Perhaps, one positive outcome is that at least Facebook and the general public know that their verified account system as not as secure as previously thought.
Ozuna is not the only Facebook user to fall victim to Facebook identity thieves. Indeed, one need only navigate to the social media giant’s help community section and search for ‘stolen account’ to see scores of members whose Facebook identities have also been stolen.
Bogus Facebook Accounts
Accounts created with the sole intention of duplicating a fictional character or public figure, How? A clear example is the account "Patricio Anchuncia" that was verified as an artist, then "refreshed" to the point of making it a duplicate of the popular cartoon series, SpongeBob. The end result is that you now have two ‘verified’ SpongeBob accounts on Facebook, with one being authentic and the other an outright fabrication.
Is It a Case of Poor Support or Worse, Complicity?
It is well known that Facebook's terms of services strictly forbid the use of fake names, duplicate accounts, i.e., having more than one profile but so far as security is concerned it seems that terms of service is as far as the social media company is willing to go. Otherwise, if safety and security were real concerns, why not enforce the terms?
And what's even worse is when hundreds or perhaps thousands of users, who actually do follow Facebook's official protocols report incidents of malicious or suspicious activity on the platform, they receive the "automated" response that there is no violation of the terms of service.
But worse still is when Facebook support responds by telling members to do the very thing they are already doing, which is to use the Facebook Community helpdesk.
When taken together, at best Facebook's actions as it relates to issues of safety, security, and credibility show an utter ineptitude and lack of concern and, at worse, speak to the social media platforms complicity in their current woes.