Facebook says it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts in 6 months

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook says it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts from its service from April to September, up slightly from 3 billion in the previous six months.

Nearly all of the bogus accounts were caught before they had a chance to become “active” users of the social network, so they are not counted in the user figures the company reports regularly. Facebook estimates that about 5% of its 2.45 billion user accounts are fake.

The company said in a report Wednesday that it also removed 18.5 million instances of child nudity and sexual exploitation from its main platform in the April-September period, up from 13 million in the previous six months. It says the increase was due to improvements in detection.

In addition, Facebook said it removed 11.4 million instances of hate speech during the period, up from 7.5 million in the previous six months. The company says it is beginning to remove hate speech proactively, the way it does with some extremist content, child-exploitation and other material.

Facebook expanded the data it shares on its removal of terrorist propaganda. Its earlier reports only included data on al-Qaida, ISIS and their affiliates. The latest report shows Facebook detects material posted by non-ISIS or al-Qaida extremist groups at a lower rate than those two organizations.

The report is Facebook’s fourth on standards enforcement and the first to include data from Instagram in areas such as child nudity, illicit firearm and drug sales, and terrorist propaganda. The company said it removed 1.3 million instances of child nudity and child sexual exploitation from Instagram during the reported period, much of it before people saw it.

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