Facebook says specialised teams working to stop 'bad actors' from abusing its systems

Facebook says it has removed more than 100 networks

FACEBOOK-SHAREHOLDERS/ Facebook logo | Reuters

Facebook on Tuesday said it has specialised teams to stop bad actors from abusing its systems and had also removed over 100 networks engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behaviour".

The social media giant's comments come amid accusations by a former employee that it had ignored or was slow to take action on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs globally.

A report by BuzzFeed News cited an internal memo written by a former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang that pointed out that heads of government and political parties in many countries were using fake accounts to sway public opinion.

Zhang claimed that she had worked hard to remove "a politically-sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence" the Delhi elections earlier this year. She, however, did not disclose details of the network, as per the report quoting the internal memo.

"We've built specialised teams, working with leading experts, to stop bad actors from abusing our systems, resulting in the removal of more than 100 networks for coordinated inauthentic behaviour. It's highly involved work that these teams do as their full-time remit," a Facebook spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The spokesperson also said that working against coordinated inauthentic behaviour is a priority for the company and that it is also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement.

"We investigate each issue carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises, before we take action or go out and make claims publicly as a company," the spokesperson said.

In the past few weeks, Facebook -- which counts India as among its largest markets with over 300 million users -- has been in the eye of a storm after a Wall Street Journal report alleged that the social media giant's content policies favoured the ruling party in India. Since then, the ruling BJP and opposition Congress have been trading barbs over Facebook's alleged bias.

Following the report, a Parliamentary panel, earlier this month, summoned Facebook representatives to discuss the issue of alleged misuse of the social media platform.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also written to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg accusing the social media platform's employees of supporting people from a political predisposition that lost successive elections, and "abusing" the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers.

Facebook has maintained that it remains committed to be an open and transparent platform, and allow people to express themselves freely on the platform. 

Meanwhile, A Delhi Assembly panel decided on Tuesday to issue a "final notice" to Facebook after no representative appeared before the committee that is hearing allegations against the social media giant.

During proceedings, Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said non-appearance of any Facebook representative before the panel was not only "contempt" of Assembly, but also an "insult" of the two crore people of Delhi.

 The panel had issued a notice to Facebook India vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan last week, asking him to appear before it on September 15 in connection with complaints about the social media giant's alleged deliberate inaction to curb hateful content in the country.