Facebook announced today that it has removed 32 “bad actors” from its platform:
Today we removed 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing.
We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this. …
It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.
So what are these Facebook and Instagram accounts that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior”?
* In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.
* The most followed Facebook Pages were “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.
* There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook, and one piece of content on Instagram.
* They ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.
* The Pages created about 30 events since May 2017. About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending. The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend.
What is described here is utterly trivial. $11,000 in ads? That is practically zero, by Facebook standards. Facebook pages with a few thousand followers, and Instagram accounts with no followers? This is the kind of thing we apparently are expected to get exercised about, but if “bad actors” can’t do orders of magnitude more than this, they are trivial.
For what it’s worth, these “inauthentic” accounts all seem to be on the left:
Perhaps I am missing something, but there is such a vast quantity of authentic nonsense on Facebook that the presence of a tiny amount of inauthentic nonsense–whatever that means, exactly–does not strike me as very important.
Maybe what Facebook disclosed today is only a molecule in the bucket, and enough will eventually come to light to suggest that “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook is somehow a problem. But I doubt it.