Facebook has this week published the latest version of its monthly Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, covering all the actions that it took in March to remove organized activity designed to mislead Facebook users.
And the numbers were down for the month - according to Facebook, it removed a total of 180 Facebook accounts, 170 Instagram accounts, 160 Facebook Pages and one Facebook group, based on three separate investigations in March 2020.
That's down from February, where it removed 467 Facebook accounts, 1,245 Instagram Pages and 49 Facebook groups for the same.
The reduction makes some sense, in that the COVID-19 lockdowns have impacted everything, even, likely, networks looking to influence Facebook users. Incidentally, Facebook also notes that one of the groups it took action against in March had ties to with the Russian Internet Research Agency, which is the key group that was believed to be behind a massive influence campaign in the lead up to the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Facebook also says that it's stopped several groups that it's banned in the past from re-engaging users on its platforms by proactively monitoring their actions and tracking such efforts.
"We monitor for efforts to re-establish a presence on Facebook by networks we previously removed for coordinated inauthentic behavior. As part of our continuous enforcement, using both automated and manual detection, we removed 206 Facebook accounts, 435 Instagram accounts, 74 Pages, and 1 Group connected to networks we took down in the past."
Again, the impacts of COVID-19 were likely the most influential factor here, but it's good to see Facebook's improving performance in detecting and removing bad actors, and protecting users in the lead up to the 2020 US Presidential election. Things are likely to ramp up again before polling day, but hopefully, through its improved systems and processes, Facebook will be able to reduce the impact of such actions on the voting process.
But, then again, recent evidence has pointed to such groups turning to Messenger and WhatsApp to hide their tracks, which could add another level of difficulty. It's another area for Facebook to keep tabs on, and could be the next key battleground for such as mass-manipulation tactics evolve.
You can read Facebook's full March 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report here.