According to a report earlier this month, Facebook, and more specifically its Instagram division, are suing 4 companies based in China for promoting the sale of fake accounts, followers and likes that, as we well know, can be used for illegal and / or unethical purposes.

Fake accounts, likes and followers have ben known to be used in phishing campaigns (where people try to obtain personal / sensitive information), as well as for marketing scams and advertising fraud, and the ever popular fake news.

The companies have created and advertised the fake accounts over the last two years, selling them in bulk on a number of websites.

Increased Scrutiny

Facebook (and other social media platforms) have come under increased scrutiny in the recent past over their use of private data, as well as the potential impact of harmful and fake content on their billions of monthly users. Governments around the world have been raising questions about their policies, and this lawsuit forms part of its push back against the exploitation of its social networks.

Fake Accounts Rampant

According to Facebook, since January of last year, the company has used artificial intelligence to identify and de-activate 2.1 billion fake accounts across Facebook and Instagram.

Fake accounts have always been an issue for systems used for so-called “social proof” metrics, and over the years, many companies have ended up falling foul of the discovery of such accounts, both through accidental, and deliberate use thereof.

The so-called “digital influencer” market has been booming for years, and one of the ways to “prove” such influence is via the number of followers, likes, etc. that any given account has. Padding these with fakes was, for a long time, relatively common practice, and it is only in recent years that systems, (and users) have become sophisticated enough to detect them more easily.