Technology

Is the problem with Facebook deleting too much or too little?

Facebook’s habit of deleting profiles or pages which don’t fit with its rules was in the news recently when over 50 British political accounts were deleted. I’m with Jon Worth on that story – which is that all the accounts in question were breaking Facebook’s own stated rules so a significant part of the responsibility rests with those running the accounts who didn’t follow the rules Facebook lays down for everyone. Over-heated claims of political purges were misplaced.

One of my reasons is that I’ve a reasonable amount of experience of reporting fake profiles or pages to Facebook in the past, across a range of different fields, and have seen them often delete ones which break the rules. So there didn’t look to be anything suspicious about Facebook deleting some political ones when I’ve seen them remove all sorts of others in the past.

However, I thought I’d too a little test to see if that’s still the case and, because Malcolm Coles just keeps on mentioning her (all in the interests of research, you understand), I went for 10 fake Pippa Middletons. It took around two-three weeks for them to act, but Facebook did remove them all.

Yet take a look at Facebook now, and you still  see a plethora of fake Pippa Middletons.

This mirrors my previous experience: even when it should be fairly obvious to Facebook that there’s a widespread issue of fake profiles or pages for a person, Facebook only removes the specific ones you’ve reported. It takes (in my experience at least) quite a lot of work to get someone at Facebook to up the ante and both do a proactive search for fakes and to curb the creation of new fakes. That was done in at least one case I was involved with, but as Pippa Middleton shows it isn’t done nearly as widely as it could be.

So whilst the one reasonable part of the complaint in the case of the political accounts was the lack of communication from Facebook about what they were removing and why, there’s also a fair ground for complaint that although Facebook says it doesn’t like fakes, it can be rather slow to act when there’s an obvious problem.

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