The number of Facebook followers is mysteriously falling on US publishers’ pages

A number of America’s biggest media outlets saw their Facebook follower counts suddenly drop Monday and Tuesday, sparking speculation that the social media giant may have deleted bot accounts.

Follower numbers for the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Hill, USA Today, New York Post and news week all discounted on October 3rd and 4th, according to data from analytics platform CrowdTangle.

United States today suffered the biggest drop, losing 13,723 followers on Monday and 11,392 on Tuesday.

That New York Times lost 6,225 followers on Monday and 4,944 on Tuesday.

Facebook logo on a phone in Paris
Facebook logo on an iPhone screen. The company deleted 1.4 billion fake accounts from April to June.

On Monday the New York Post lost 8,200 followers, another 4,378 left the next day.

The number of followers on the Washington Post‘s side fell 5,804 on Monday, and another 4,337 on Tuesday.

In total, the seven posts lost 38,812 likes on Monday and 29,692 on Tuesday.

news week asked Facebook owner Meta why the drop was happening and if it was because fake bot accounts were being deleted.

According to its own statements, Facebook took action against 1.4 billion suspected bot accounts between April and June 2022 Report on the enforcement of community standards. In the previous three months, 1.6 billion fake accounts were terminated.

Facebook says on its Transparency Center pages, “Our goal is to remove as many fake accounts on Facebook as possible. This includes accounts created with malicious intent to violate our policies and personal profiles created to represent a business, organization, or non-human entity, such as a pet.

“We prioritize enforcing fake accounts designed to cause harm. Many of these accounts are used in spam campaigns and are financially motivated.

“We anticipate that the number of accounts we respond to will vary over time due to the unpredictability of opposing account creation. Our detection technology helps us block millions of attempts to create fake accounts every day and catch millions more, often within minutes of creation. We don’t include blocked attempts in the metrics we report here.”

From April to June of this year, Facebook estimated that “fake accounts made up about 5 percent of our global monthly active users.”

In recent months, a row over fake accounts has threatened to derail Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter.

In May, the Tesla CEO shared an audit that concluded that half of President Joe Biden’s Twitter followers were either spam or bot accounts. He tried to walk away from the acquisition, but the social media company sued for breach of contract.

Musk’s plan to buy Twitter has now worked again, his lawyers said this week. The number of Facebook followers is mysteriously falling on US publishers’ pages

Rick Schindler

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