Facebook’s recent crackdown on Russian meddling got me going. Russia’s manipulation of Facebook’s ad platform has forced Facebook to up its moderation and take new machine-learning steps to invest in additional programming around it. The platform has also begun hiring 1,000 more human ad reviewers.
According to a Huffington Post article, in 2012 Facebook reportedly had 83 million fake profiles on its platform. The current number of fake profiles, which are likely causing the high amount of fake news across the network, is unknown. However, if we extrapolate out five more years with a modest increase in technology of 200%, it’s likely there is now an estimated more than half a billion fake profiles.
I believe the Russian meddling goes far beyond ads on a page. Those ads most likely impacted less than 1% of its viewers. Based on my 17 years of experience in the online advertising space, ads on a pure numbers level have a .001% to (in extreme cases) 10% click-through ratio — the ratio of people who actually click an ad versus how many just see it. In this case, Facebook claimed there were a total of 3,000 known ads linked to fake accounts and pages, and it’s been reported that the ads reached 10 million U.S. Facebook users out of the total 210 million U.S. users on the platform.
Do you really think these advertisements could sway 10 million people’s votes in America? Or the 131.4 million people in the U.S. who can actually vote?
Fake Profiles: Digging Into The Root Of The Problem
What’s more likely: Grandma clicking an ad, believing what she reads and changing her vote from Hillary to Trump? Or Grandma engaging in a series of conversations with someone she thought was real but is actually a social influence contracted by foreign governments? Or possibly just someone out there trying to drive their interests in our social media?
It’s clear that there is a complicated web of fake profiles across the social media sphere. Users need to wake up and be conscious of this and how they are managing their social circles. Many times, fake profiles include people who are your “friend,” acquaintance or those whose posts and commentary you love reading. You don’t know them but you think you do. Social media outlets are unregulated gateways into our personal lives. They are riddled with so much misinformation and fake content, you can create over 1,000 conversations in a matter of seconds with personalities that seem real. Maybe you’ve been conversing with them over a period of weeks or months. They are there influencing and directing the social discord in our country.