Facebook Sees ‘Progress,’ but Fake News Outfits Are ‘Sophisticated, Well-Funded,’ Zuckerberg Says

“We need to constantly improve and stay one step ahead,” exec says in lengthy post

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg says the company has seen “steady progress” in efforts to clamp down on fake news, but that the “sophisticated, well-funded” operations disseminating misinformation will continue to evolve.

“While we’ve made steady progress, we face sophisticated, well-funded adversaries. They won’t give up, an they will keep evolving. We need to constantly improve and stay one step ahead,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 3,000 word Facebook post on Thursday. “This will take continued, heavy investment in security on our part, as well as close cooperation with governments, the tech industry, and security experts since no one institution can solve this on their own.”

Facebook has been heavily criticized for its failure to block Kremlin-funded trolls from posting fake news during the 2016 presidential race. Zuckerberg dismissed the issue when it was first reported prior to the election, calling the idea “crazy.” But following widespread criticism, especially after the full extent of the problem became known —  more than 120 million Americans were ultimately affected by the misinformation campaign, the company told Congress last year — he changed his tune, saying he is “dead serious” about making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday. “But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies At House Hearing
“It’s clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm,” Zuckerberg told Congress in April

Zuckerberg said Facebook is taking a calculated approach to stopping trolls, after it removed hundreds of Iran and Russia-tied accounts for coordinated misinformation campaigns last month. And rather than take down accounts in small batches, Zuckerberg says Facebook wants to cause “maximum disruption” by identifying and removing entire networks of bad actors.

Separate from Zuckerberg’s post, Facebook announced on Thursday it will now have its third-party fact checkers review photos and videos for authenticity. Zuckerberg also stressed fighting fake news is a burden Facebook can’t handle alone.

“Preventing election interference is bigger than any single organization,” Zuckerberg said.  “It’s now clear that everyone — governments, tech companies, and independent experts such as the Atlantic Council — need to do a better job sharing the signals and information they have to prevent abuse.”