A Growing Problem
In a call with reporters on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the social media company has nixed 5.4 billion fake accounts in 2019 alone, according to CNN — which is two thirds of the global population, or four times the population of China.
It’s a dizzying quantity of fake accounts. And the trend is ticking up: the company only deleted 3.3 billion fake accounts in all of 2018. Between just April and September of this year alone, it removed 3.2 billion, twice as many as in the entirety of 2018.
The transparency report that came along with the announcement also revealed that Facebook shut down seven million instances of hate speech between July and September. That’s in part due to Facebook’s new AI-powered content flagging algorithm approach to blocking hate speech on the platform.
Combating fake news has become an increasingly important topic in light of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. Zuckerberg was grilled by a panel of civil rights leaders two weeks ago over his company’s failures to moderate misleading political ads.
But are billions of fake accounts really as big of a problem as it sounds? In today’s call, Zuckerberg immediately tried to play down the significance of the stats. “Because our numbers are high doesn’t mean there’s that much more harmful content,” he told reporters. “It just means we’re working harder to identify this content and that’s why it’s higher.”
READ MORE: Facebook has shut down 5.4 billion fake accounts this year [CNN]
More on fake accounts: Facebook: Misleading Political Ads Are Important “Discourse”