Facebook cracks down on companies selling fake accounts

The social network has filed a lawsuit against companies and individuals based in China.

Facebook has cracked down on companies churning out and peddling fake accounts. The social network has filed a lawsuit in US federal court against four companies and three individuals based in China, not only for promoting the sales of fake accounts, but also for offering fake likes and followers for a price. In its announcement, Facebook said the defendants' scheme encompasses several platforms and networks other than Facebook and Instagram, including Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter, Apple and Google. The defendants were identified as electronics and hardware manufacturers, as well as software and online advertising service providers.

Facebook said that by filing the lawsuit, it's hoping to "reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated." The company explained how fake accounts can be used for spam and phishing, marketing scams, advertising fraud and other nefarious schemes. In recent years, they're more associated with misinformation campaigns, used to disseminate false news and sow discord on the platform.

To address the issue, Facebook said in its complaint that it used artificial intelligence to disable 2.1 billion inauthentic profiles from January to September 2018. However, fake accounts will continue popping up en masse as long as there are entities selling them in bulk. Facebook's lawsuit is now asking the court to prevent the defendants from creating and promoting the sale of inauthentic accounts, likes and followers, from infringing its trademarks on their websites and from using Facebook-branded domains for those websites.