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Facebook Shuts Down 30,000 Fake Accounts in France Ahead of Presidential Election

by Safia Samee Ali and Associated Press /
People are silhouetted in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo.Dado Ruvic / Reuters

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Facebook has shut down 30,000 fake accounts tied to France, citing deceptive content and misinformation, ahead of the country’s presidential election this month, the company said Thursday.

Citing the mission of "protecting authenticity" the social media giant revealed ramped up efforts to stop the spread of fake news, hoaxes, and spam through fake accounts, which "enabled us to take action" against the French accounts, said the company in a statement.

"We’ve found that when people represent themselves on Facebook the same way they do in real life, they act responsibly. Fake accounts don’t follow this pattern," said the company.

New technology allows the company to recognize "inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself," like detecting "repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent," according to the statement.

While the efforts won't single out every fake account, the company aims to target those with the "largest footprint" and most "broad reach."

After facing harsh criticism for the lack of intervention for the spread of fake news ahead of the U.S election, which critics said may have helped sway the results in favor of Donald Trump, Facebook upped its efforts in December.

The company said that it will focus on the "worst of the worst" offenders and partner with outside fact-checkers and news organizations to sort honest news reports from made-up stories, in December statement.

Related: Google Offers Fact Checked Results Amid ‘Fake News’ Crisis

Facebook, as well as French media, are running fact-checking programs in France to counter false posts ahead of the two-round elections slated for April 23 to May 7.

Eleven candidates, including far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, will be on the French ballot.

European authorities have also pressured social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to remove extremist propaganda or other postings that violate European hate speech or other laws.

Last week, Facebook launched a resource to help spot false news in fourteen countries including the U.S., France and Germany.

It leads users to a list of tips for spotting false information and how to report it.

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