Facebook blocks a million accounts a day to protect elections: Sandberg


Facebook (FB) is removing a large number of fake accounts to protect itself from misinformation and to protect the next presidential election, according to Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of the company.

“We are very focused on removing bogus accounts,” Sandberg told me in an interview this week. “We are now removing over a million a day – blocked before anyone can see them – because of everything that went wrong last time [during the 2016 presidential election] under false accounts. “

Facebook executives know their business will be under the microscope this election season because its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, have been manipulated by domestic and foreign players, including Russians, who are trying to influence the 2016 elections. ignores the effect of false accounts and misinformation on the election results. Initially CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that believing that misinformation on Facebook had influenced the election was “a pretty crazy idea”, but came back to that later.

In any event, Facebook does not want to be seen as influencing the results in one way or another.

Since 2016, the company has implemented numerous programs and hired thousands of people to fight false information. Although some critics like Senator Mike Bennet (D-CO) say the business is still ill-prepared.

“Electoral integrity has been a huge, high and extremely high priority for us since 2016,” Sandberg told me. “In 2016, we lacked coordinated inauthentic behavior on our platforms. We didn’t know what it was. But now we do it. And we worked hard on it. “

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

“We had, I think, a very different record in 2018. And we’re looking for a very good track record in 2020,” said Sandberg. “We are able to systematically find and suppress coordinated inauthentic behavior. We got 50 [coordinated attacks] just last year.

Since coronavirus can have an impact on the way Americans go to the polls, that is, there can be more postal voting or online voting, I asked Sandberg whether the company will have to change the way it monitors what it calls inauthentic behavior.

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“We know that as systems evolve, people will try to stay one step ahead,” said Sandberg. “So, for you, if more votes are online, if more information is online, we have to stay ahead. We work closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, governments around the world to make sure that, as these things evolve, we don’t just protect ourselves from what happened last time, but we’re really fighting what could happen this time. And this is a top priority for us. “

Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg and other executives know they will be under surveillance.

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Andy Serwer is editor in chief of Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @serwer.

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