A verified Facebook page masquerading as Elon Musk and having 70,000 followers has been taken off the social networking site. It was yet another incident just over a month after a similar Facebook page masquerading as the Tesla chief appeared online. The newly discovered fan page appeared to have been created by cryptocurrency scammers as one of the recent posts asked users to contact the owner via direct messages for an unknown digital currency.
Cybersecurity researcher Ehraz Ahmed discovered Elon Musk’s falsely verified Facebook page last month. He told Gadgets 360 that he originally found Musk’s earlier Facebook page that was down in November.
“I was sure that this was not the end and that the scammers would come up with a similar scam. But what I didn’t expect was that the new fake page would appear so soon,” said the Bengaluru researcher.
The page in question was created in May 2015, according to the details available in the About section. Interestingly, it didn’t undergo any name changes, which was not the case with the previous verified page that appeared and was removed last month, as it received name updates at least six times in 2021 and was originally created to represent a “Kizito Gavin” – the reverse name of Ugandan footballer Gavin Kizito.
While the name on the Facebook page was spelled accurately and correctly, the URL was misspelled and was seen as https://www.facebook.com/ellonnmusk. This itself hinted at something odd. Furthermore, the verified page showed that it was operated by some people from Germany and Spain. Musk is mainly based in Texas and not in Europe.
Ahmed stated that both the earlier and newly discovered Facebook pages appeared to be part of a cryptocurrency scam.
“The previous page I reported asked people to send Bitcoins and promised them double the amount in return,” he said. “This time the scammers and impersonators took a different route. They posted a message saying that Musk is coming up with a new coin called #MUSKCoin. And those who want to know more about this digital currency can message him directly.
News of another Musk verified Facebook page was first reported by Web News Observer last week. However, Gadgets 360 was able to independently verify that the page was live until Monday and was taken down shortly after we discussed the details with Facebook parent Meta. However, the company did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the matter.
It is not yet clear whether the page was removed by Facebook or directly from the owners.
Facebook as “lame”
Musk, who has been quite active on Twitter, called Facebook “lame” in February of last year in a tweet using the hashtag: #DeleteFacebook. It was in response to an anti-Facebook tweet from Hollywood actor and producer Sacha Baron Cohen. However, it wasn’t the first time the 50-year-old billionaire showed his aloofness with the social networking platform.
In 2018, Musk said that year and called Facebook crippled at the time.
Musk has also been officially no longer on Meta’s Instagram since August 2018.
Ineffective despite rigorous verification process
Facebook says on a support page that the verified badge confirms that the page or profile on its platform has the authentic presence of the public figure or brand it represents. The company claims it “considers a number of factors when evaluating Facebook Pages and profiles to determine whether they are in the public interest and meet our verification criteria.” It also asks for an official identification document such as a driver’s license or passport from the page or profile owner for verification. However, it seems that such a rigorous process does not help to limit false verifications.
That Facebook is making such gross mistakes as authenticating this fake Elon Musk account strongly suggests that the company simply didn’t put enough resources into the human-centric review process and instead hopes its artificial intelligence (AI) systems are good enough. will work — and they probably work well in many cases, but we know they will fail in many specific cases as well,” said Noah Giansiracusa, a professor at Bentley University in Boston.
Giansiracusa recently wrote a book called “How Algorithms Create and Prevent Fake News” to point out challenges in using AI and human moderation to limit fake content online.
Facebook is notorious for allowing fake news and misinformation on its platform. The platform has tried in the recent past to fix these issues by releasing updates but fake and duplicate users are one of the issues that have not been successfully fixed yet.
In a 2018 revenue call, Meta CFO David Wehner acknowledged the problem of duplicate users. He stated that “The Facebook MAU number counts multiple accounts for a single user where such accounts exist, and we estimate that they represent approximately 10 percent of our Facebook MAUs, as previously described in the Limitation of Key Statistics section in our SEC filings.” .”
Meta ex-employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen also raised the company’s issue of mishandling duplicate accounts earlier this year.
Giansiracusa told Gadgets 360 that by considering that Facebook has limited control over the removal of duplicate and fake accounts, it suggests that the platform’s AI algorithms are inefficient and ineffective in taking action against impersonation profiles.
“With fake accounts like this one from Elon Musk, I wonder if Facebook really cares enough to really tackle this problem – because even these fake accounts attract a lot of engagement and thus bring profits to Facebook, so what’s the real incentive for the company to to keep them in check?” he asked.