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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says breaking up social network wouldn't help

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Responding to a co-founder's call to break up Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said doing that would only make the process of trying to curb fake news and accounts from the social network "harder."



Chris Hughes, a college roommate of Zuckerberg's from Harvard, wrote a widely read and discussed op-ed for the New York Times on May 9 saying that Facebook had grown too big and needed government intervention to split it up, like it had done with the original AT&T in the 1980s.

"We want to make sure we prevent election interference" and curb the fake account and news crisis on the social network, Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters Thursday. "I don't think the remedy of breaking up the company will address those. It will make it much harder."

On the call, Facebook announced that it had removed more than 3 billion fake accounts from October to March, twice as many as the previous six months.

Facebook said nearly all of the fake accounts were caught from artificial intelligence and more human monitors.

In a new report, Facebook said it saw a "steep increase" in the creation of abusive, fake accounts in the past six months. While most of these fake accounts were blocked "within minutes" of their creation, the company said this increase of "automated attacks" by bad actors meant not only that it caught more of the fake accounts, but that more of them slipped through the cracks.


Facebook estimates that 5% of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts. This is up from an estimated 3% to 4% in the previous six-month report.

Despite the positive spin put out by Facebook for this report, it's clear the social network is engulfed in a never-ending and more heated battle from computer bots and others who are out to exploit the system. The issues first came into public discussion in 2016, when Russians were discovered to have played havoc with the social network in a bid to influence the outcome of the presidential election.


Even as Facebook's detection tools get better, so do the efforts by the creators of these fake accounts.

Facebook also said Thursday that it removed more than 7 million posts, photos and other material because it violated its rules against hate speech.

Zuckerberg has called for government regulation to decide what should be considered harmful content and on other issues.

Of the 3.4 billion accounts removed in the six-month period, 1.2 billion came during the fourth quarter of 2018 and 2.2 billion during the first quarter of this year. More than 99% of these were disabled before someone reported them to the company. In the April-September period last year, Facebook blocked 1.5 billion accounts.

Facebook attributed the spike in the removed accounts to "automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time." The company declined to say where these attacks originated, only that they were from different parts of the world.

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