No longer content with just trying to keep people from spewing racist rants in public, or post illegally pirated episodes of One Piece on their walls, Facebook is getting into the world of international intrigue. The company released a new report today detailing its efforts to combat what most of us have given up and just started calling “fake news,” but which the company labels with the much more espionage-sounding “information operations.”
The company’s goal is to target both “government and non-state actors” who hope to use the social media platform to steal personal information or falsely influence public opinion. Among other things, the report presents Facebook’s take on the 2016 U.S. election, noting several groups that engaged in “false amplification,” a.k.a. using a bunch of fake accounts to hammer a message into the public consciousness and start “grassroots” groups that eventually draw in people who share those actual beliefs. In a weirdly depressing note, though, the company’s findings suggest that this false amplification was only a small fraction of the political discourse in America during the election, meaning that the rest of it was, presumably, distressingly authentic.
In any case, the company has re-upped its pledge to combat information operations, increasing security with two-factor authentication, and working to more quickly and successfully identify and delete fake accounts. The better to ensure the rest of us that the next time you see someone spouting a bunch of racist xenophobia on their social media accounts, it comes from their blackened, authentically misinformed hearts.