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Facebook set to verify identity of major page owners

In an attempt to off-set the adverse publicity that the world’s biggest social media site has received in recent weeks, Facebook’s head Mark Zuckerberg has declared that all “large” pages will be audited. Based on this any page which does not clear the process will be prevented from posting.

In a Facebook message, Zuckerbeg writes his site will “require people who manage large pages to be verified as well. This will make it much harder for people to run pages using fake accounts, or to grow virally and spread misinformation or divisive content that way.” There is no definition as to what constitutes a “large” page.

How large a page is depends on range of factors, such as the nature of the business; content types (text, image, video, and so on); the topic and share-ability of content; the frequency of posts; the promptness in replies; and overall engagement with fans and followers. Moreover, some types of pages are more influential than others. A cookery site with a lager following than a ‘news’ site will be less influential, in turns of shaping public opinion, than the news site, meaning the credibility of the news site is a more pressing matter.

In the same Facebook message, Mark Zuckerberg also said that he was going to tighten up the rules on advertising. Here the social media mogul writes: “every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be verified. To get verified, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location.”

The tighter control on advertisers is a reaction to activities from the groups like the Internet Research Agency, the so-called Russian “troll farm”, which had an undue influence over the most recent U.S. presidential election and the tight contest between Trump and Clinton.

Next week, Zuckerberg begins a round of Congressional hearings into Facebook’s handling of data and other issues. This partly a public relations exercise and partly an attempted to convince advertisers, users and politicians that the company has learned lessons from political interference and the significant data trust breaches surrounding Cambridge Analytica (see “Facebook suspends Trump linked data firm“).

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In related news, researchers have demonstrated just how easy it is to create fake video news through the use of archival footage and artificial intelligence. See the Digital Journal report “Artificial intelligence can be used to shape fake news.”

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