Facebook has released key information on its battle against fake accounts and child porn on its platforms. The world's biggest social media company said it removed 3.2 billion fake accounts between April and September 2019 and purged the site of millions of child nudity and terror-linked posts.

In a content moderation report released on Wednesday Facebook said 11.6 million pieces of content depicting child nudity and child sexual assaults were removed during the period. The crackdown on child nudity and terror-related posts, however, came amid increasing fears that the drive to give more privacy to users will only help child porn peddlers and criminals.

"We remove content that depicts or encourages suicide or self-injury, including certain graphic imagery and real-time depictions that experts tell us might lead others to engage in similar behaviour ... We place a sensitivity screen over content that doesn't violate our policies but that may be upsetting to some, including things like healed cuts or other non-graphic self-injury imagery in a context of recovery," Facebook vice-president Guy Rosen said in a blog post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, US, April 18, 2017 REUTERS/Stephen Lam

The number of fake accounts taken down more than doubled in the latest crackdown, compared with the same period last year, Reuters reported. Facebook also it removed more than 99 percent of content related to terror network al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (Isis).

More dangerous content removed

Among other dangerous content Facebook identified and removed are:

  • 2.5 million pieces of content related to suicide and self-harm
  • 845,000 similar content from Instagram
  • 4.4 million pieces of drug-sales content were removed from Facebook
  • 1.5 million similar content from Instagram
  • 2.3 million pieces of firearm-sales content were removed from Facebook
  • 58,600 similar content from Instagram
  • 133,300 pieces of terrorist-propaganda content were removed from Instagram

Dream come true for predators and child pornographers?

The announcement, however, comes amid fears that Facebook's plans to give greater levels of privacy to users will only make it more difficult for law enforcement to detect and fight child abuse. FBI Director Christopher Wray said last month that more advanced encryption features will turn Facebook into a "dream come true for predators and child pornographers."

Under the 'pivot to privacy" policy announced by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg end-to-end encryption will extend to more Facebook pwned platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram apart from Facebook Messenger. Analysts and law enforcement officials are concerned that this will inadvertently benefit child sex abusers and criminals.