USA Today wants FBI to probe Facebook spammers


San Francisco, May 6: The parent company of the USA Today daily has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to probe the increase of spammers on its official page Facebook page that accounts for half of the newspaper’s followers on the social media giant.

According to a report in USA Today on Friday, Facebook removed millions of fake accounts from the newspaper’s page last month, but millions of its remaining followers also were fake.

The daily’s owner, Gannett Company, contacted the FBI earlier this week after the spammers continued to flood the social media page unabated.

“Gannett has taken steps to prevent its Facebook pages from attracting more fake followers, including blocking new followers from Bangladesh — one of the countries the company thinks is the source of a significant proportion of the spam accounts,” Maribel Wadsworth, the publisher’s Chief Transformation Officer, said.

The newspaper claimed to accumulate a thousand phony followers a day who post spam comments and attempt to look legitimate.

According to Facebook, it has detected additional suspicious activity since its April fake-account crackdown.

“After we identified the additional set of violating accounts, we notified our partners at USA Today, and are taking action against these accounts,” Shabnam Shaik, Technical Programme Manager at Facebook, said.

It is not, however, clear why the daily’s Facebook page in particular came under such massive attack from the spammers.

“We don’t know why the scope of impact on USA Today’s Facebook Page appears greater than any other publisher,” said Shaik.

Facebook has previously claimed that around one per cent of its monthly worldwide active users are “misclassified” accounts — accounts which are either fake or violate terms of service.

The removal of millions of fake profiles is in line with Facebook’s battle against scammers and spammers flooding its platform that currently has 1.94 billion users.


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