Facebook scrubbed 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, a new high

The overwhelming majority of fake accounts are detected within minutes of their registration. (Getty)

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Facebook says its disabled roughly 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of this year, a record number of removals that targeted spammers, propagandists and others working to exploit the social media platform.

The number is a sharp uptick compared to the 1.2 billion accounts removed between October and December, according to a Community Enforcement standards update released Thursday. The standards report provides evidence that the social media giant is making inroads to mitigating malicious activity on its services.

Fake accounts made up roughly 5 percent of Facebook’s worldwide monthly active users during the first quarter of 2019. The overwhelming majority are detected within minutes of their registration, according to the company, meaning they are not included in Facebook’s active user metrics.

“These numbers are driven largely by automated attacks by bad actors who try to create millions of accounts,” Facebook vice president of product management Guy Rosen said during a call with reporters.

The company did not attribute who was behind the fake accounts.

In the first quarter of this year Facebook also removed or identified 1.8 billion pieces of spam, 52.3 million pieces of violent or graphic content, 19.4 events focused on adult nudity or sexual activity, 11.1 pieces of terrorism-related content, and 7.3 million items related to hate speech.

Much of that activity was proactively detected, Facebook said, thanks to an increased implementation of artificial intelligence combined with human review of online content.

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