Open Letter to Facebook

We thought to write this because of Mr Zuckerberg recent live video about Facebook influence on elections and steps taken to reduce fake news and trends being planted on Facebook.

In recent times we are experiencing a dramatic increase in fake news and articles (being planted) posted/published to facebook thru pages and website specially those using Instant Articles. Because Instant articles pay publishers money per views people are hugely encouraged to publish fake news simply to gain monetary benefits. As such people publish fake news inform of instant articles specially related to current political events which are trending and also sex related news and gossip which also can go viral. Simply people publish or plant fake news in topics which people like to hear.

Another growing concern is that people with extreme views belonging to extreme religious and ethnic groups plant fake news which leads to conflicts and riots. Sri Lanka being multi-religious and multi-ethnic country currently passing a period of reconciliation after 30 years of bloody internal conflicts some people with vested interests try to use the ethnic and religious tensions among different religious and ethnic communities to gain financial and political power. Facebook has become the number one tool for such people.

Few effective things Facebook can do to reduce people misusing Facebook for wrong purposes.

– When approving Instant Articles with advertisements for Media/ News Company pages make sure that they are locally registered media and news agencies with a valid street address.

– Also make sure all News/ Media/ Gossip Instant Article pages have published valid Editorial and contact details on both page and website.

– Since Admins and Editors are hidden on pages people misuse this privilege to publish makeup stories and fake news thinking they can get away with it. Therefore make it compulsory for Pages publish at least one profile of a admin in the about section.

– Increase the effectiveness of removal of fake profiles. In order to bypass Facebook security people provide a mobile number for fake accounts. In Sri Lanka one person can buy upto 5 mobiles number from one Network and we have about 5 Mobile providers and altogether one person can register upto 25 mobile numbers. Since mobile providers offer subscription free pay as you go connections for onetime payment of less than US $ 0.5 most people signup for few fake accounts. To get more reach for Instant Article Facebook users use fake profile to post and share IA post on groups publish them without be accountable. As such it is very important Facebook somehow ban fake accounts.

It doesn’t matter making changes after the damage is done. This is not the first time I have written to Facebook of these concerns. There is no point being sorry later. Facebook can be a dangerous tool and can make historical damages to the Society if misused.

Please we humbly request Facebook to take steps to strengthen real time security on Facebook. Facebook if rightly used can bring great good to the world by connecting people. As such we write this letter in the best interest for the Facebook.

UPFA – ABF