Media giant requests FBI investigation into fake Facebook followers


The nation’s largest newspaper publisher is demanding the FBI investigate a host of fake Facebook accounts that followed its social media site.

Gannett Co, which owns USA Today and 109 media titles across the United States, claims that USA Today’s social media site was hit by a tsunami of fake accounts, which accounted for nearly half of its millions of Facebook followers.

The newspaper giant reports that Facebook axed millions of those fake accounts from its account and other publishers three weeks ago. In doing so, they discovered the purged accounts equated to more than a third of USA Today’s nearly 15.2 million Facebook “likes” at the time.

Executive of Gannett Co. told reporters Thursday that many of its existing followers appear to be fake, and the site still continues to accumulate thousands of phony followers per day.

Facebook has come under fire in recent months for fake users allegedly spreading spam and fake news articles, particularly since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Some argue the influx of fake news stories being circulating on the platform during the campaign influenced the outcome of the election, though CEO Mark Zuckerberg contends that Facebook took no responsibility in swaying voter and spreading fabricated news stories.

It is believed that phone user accounts continue to run rampant across Facebook, though it remains unclear why USA Today was the target of an inordinately high number of fake accounts.

USA Today reports:

Facebook has said in filings with the Securities and Exchange commission that it estimates about 1% of its monthly worldwide active users are “misclassified” accounts, which it says includes both fake accounts and those that don’t abide by its terms of service, such as people creating accounts for their pets. The company believes the majority of these are outside of the United States. The company declined to say what the ratio between these types of misclassified accounts was.

H/T: The Hill

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