Facebook’s Failure to Enforce Its Own Rules

Pages are fabricating metrics and overriding bans

Jonathan Albright
15 min readNov 6, 2018
Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

This is the last installment of The Micro-Propaganda Machine, a three-part analysis critically examining the issues at the interface of platforms, propaganda, and politics.

The third part of my analysis of Facebook prior to the midterm election, looks at granular enforcement and Facebook’s challenges in enforcing its community standards and terms of service. This post highlights the long-term gaming of the platform’s engagement numbers and interaction metrics by several recently removed pages and presents a case of the company’s failure to identify and remove content from InfoWars, a removed—or “banned”—presence on the platform.

At first glance, Facebook’s efforts to identify “inauthentic” accounts, find and ban actors who have violated its terms of service and platform rules, and flag “false news” might appear to be moderately successful. Through my investigation of the platform, however, there appears to be a longstanding pattern of ineffective rules paired with inconsistent enforcement. This has opened up many loopholes and workarounds for certain pages and actors and facilitated the misuse and exploitation of Facebook’s platform.

A number of high-profile and previously unreleased data findings shine a light…

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Jonathan Albright

Professor/researcher. Award-nominated data journalist. Media, data, & tech frmly #columbiajournalism #towcenter #berkmanklein #elonuniversity