Fake profiles, fake likes, fake content.
Facebook's security team yesterday released a white paper that outlines some of the techniques that malicious people and entities use to manipulate information on the platform.
In some cases, governments and non-state actors try to influence public opinion. In other cases, scammers and spammers are abusing the platform to get their content to spread — so they can generate traffic they can monetize.
Here's a look at some of the key ways bad actors are gaming Facebook to make false or misleading information reach you.
They use fake profiles to spread their content.
In early November, BuzzFeed News reported that teens and young men in Macedonia were running pro-Trump websites that often traffic in fake news stories. One tactic used by some of the larger players in that country, as well as by other spammers, is to create a large number of fake Facebook accounts and use them to spread their articles on the platform.
BuzzFeed News also documented how fake profiles are used by Macedonians to push out political and other types of content. A recent story from VRT, a Belgian public broadcaster, made this practice even more clear. Journalist Tim Verheyden went to Macedonia and interviewed a 19 year-old who went by the pseudonym Boris.
Watch Boris talk about how he controls roughly 700 fake Facebook profiles.
They spam Facebook groups with links.
Boris explained he uses special software to have his fake profiles automatically post his latest content in to a wide range of pro-Trump Facebook groups. Facebook groups are an increasingly important part of the spam and misinformation ecosystem on Facebook.
In some cases, spammers start new Facebook groups and try to get real people to join. Other times, they purchase an existing group. Or they simply join groups with real or fake profiles and start spamming them with content.
It's not just for political content — there are also hoaxes articles about terrorist attacks, or clickbait about Native Americans, for example. People are constantly targeting groups as a way to get content to spread.