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Facebook acts tough as Russia-linked groups pose perennial challenge

After a tumultuous year marked by a series of scandals and allegations, Facebook (FB) is leaving no stone unturned to regain its faltering credibility. Over the past several months, the social media firm has been on a mission to clean up its platform, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg had promised the lawmakers last year.

The political ramifications of the privacy breach scandal involving British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica and the growing concerns about data security had a huge impact on Facebook’s valuation, and the company lost about a quarter of its market share in the last twelve months.

Continuing the crackdown against Russia-based organizations that use the platform for fraudulent activities Facebook Thursday removed about 300 fake pages launched by Sputnik, a news agency having links to Kremlin. The fake pages and accounts, which were used for spreading propaganda and misleading the people, were followed by several thousands of users.

Facebook Thursday removed about 300 fake pages launched by Sputnik, a news agency having links to Kremlin

The operations of the news network, which created the fake pages, were spread across Eurasia, according to Facebook’s management. Meanwhile, Sputnik reportedly condemned the action terming it a politically-motivated move that is akin to censorship. Worryingly, the manipulation of information – publishing fake news on Facebook targeting select groups – had helped its perpetrators to influence voters during the presidential poll and control the outcome of the election.

With the fake news campaigners finding new ways to have their job done, a lot more needs to be done to put an end to the menace. It is high time Facebook learned a lesson from the many slips-up in the past, wherein sensitive user data went into the hands of third-party entities.

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Last year, the company had detected a suspicious network of groups and pages that spent a sizable amount on advertising – also linked to the Russian authorities – and purged them based on an alert issued by the federal government. It had also deleted scores of suspicious accounts just before the midterm polls in November last year after they behaved in an inauthentic manner.

Ensuring the authenticity of users and veracity of the content shared on the platform are becoming a big challenge for most social networking sites. Recently, microblogging giant Twitter (TWTR) launched a cleanup mission to have toxic content removed from the site.

 

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