Social Media Giants Are Using AI To Flag Fake Profiles As Voting Kicks Off In India

As the voting for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 has taken off, social media platforms are flooded with news as well as “shared” and “forwarded” information which could be a cause of misinformation for the voters.

Over the last couple of years, social media has emerged as a potent weapon to influence voters sentiments, with political outfits spending crores of rupees to influence the voters. In fact, in India, the spreading of factually incorrect statements news have led to mob violence and lynching, leading to rampage and death.

Taking into consideration the potential threat of misinformation, the Government of India had issued a stern warning to social media giants, demanding that they take proactive measures to tackle this challenge.

Pressure On Social Media Giants

Owing to the mounting pressure, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter, among others have taken countless measures to ensure a fair and transparent election procedure.

At a hearing at Mumbai High Court, popular social media websites along with Google collaborated to enter into a voluntary code of ethics for the general elections with the Election Commission of India (ECI). “It includes measures like a dedicated communications channel for notice and take down after receiving valid legal order, processing of valid requests in the blackout period ahead of voting and voter education efforts. This builds on the ongoing dialogue we’ve had with the commission, as well as with the campaigns and political parties,” Facebook said in a blog post.

Facebook And LinkedIn Use AI To Identify Fake Profiles

With millions of users for both these platforms, Facebook and LinkedIn are using AI tools to scan through scores of its user’s profile to identify fake accounts and flag off potentially harmful content from the websites.

In an interview with a leading news agency, LinkedIn said that the platform has invested heavily in AI-solutions that can weed out bad actors instantaneously without other users having to do that.

The platform which reportedly has over 55 million users in India and the company is using human-centric and machine learning techniques to achieve this. As their machine learning models are not completely efficient to identify all the major fake profiles, it also relies on its members who report suspicious activities on the site for the purpose of scoring and review.

“One of the ways we ensure that accounts are real is by building automated detection systems at scale for detecting and taking action against fake accounts,” the company said in a blog post. “A human element will always be necessary to catch fake accounts that have evaded our models… While we strive to take down fake accounts before they interact with our members, we also get signals from our members who report suspicious activity on the site,” they added.

The challenge of the fake profile is not just limited to actors and politicians alone, according to the report, a lady-IAS officer had requested the company to look into a fake profile that was created in her name.

According to a spokesperson with the company, this continues to be a problem as LinkedIn has become a primary source for fraudsters to harvest email addresses from connections, identity theft, phishing, spear phishing and other scams and impersonation, the report noted.

To ensure safe and democratic election, Facebook and WhatsApp, its subsidiary, are closely working with political parties to tackle the issue of misinformation. The social media giant has listed strict rules regarding placing of political ads on the platform and requires the party members to submit valid proof to authenticate their identity.

Facebook, which has become a breeding ground for fake news and profile, has also taken similar steps to identify and flag inappropriate content and profiles.

According to Facebook blogspot, the platform is using AI to identify and remove nearly one million accounts every day from India, if the users have violated Facebook’s rules pertaining to misinformation, hate speech and voter suppression.

“They also help us, at a large scale, identify abusive or violating content, quickly locate it across the platform and remove it in bulk. This dramatically reduces its ability to spread. We continue to expand on this initiative, adding 24 new languages — including 16 for India — to our automatic translation system,” Ajit Mohan, Managing Director and Vice President, India wrote.

Working With The Govt

The social media giant is also closely working with the Election Commission to train policymakers, candidates and their staff improve their cybersecurity and awareness for how their accounts could be hacked or abused.

“During elections, times of conflict or political turmoil, these accounts can be at higher risk of threats and abuse, so we help them learn how to be proactive and look for signals that their accounts could be harmed,” Mohan added.

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Akshaya Asokan
Akshaya Asokan works as a Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine. She has previously worked with IDG Media and The New Indian Express. When not writing, she can be seen either reading or staring at a flower.

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