Facebook, more than 83 million questionable profiles.The poisoned networks

Pierluigi Paganini August 03, 2012

Crazy … a year ago on a warm June evening I began to formalize some ideas on a concept of great relevance today, the “social network poisoning”.

I am the person who coined the term, proposing the scientific community with some colleagues who share my ideas as Andrea Zapparoli Manzoni and Kalos Bonasia. Immediately I inserted the voice and described it in detail on Wikipedia, that however demonstrated  great ignorance and arrogance banning the post saying it not supported by official studies

Today I desire to discuss a news published by BBC web site related to Facebook  filings made public this week that states that 8.7% of its 955 million active accounts broke its rules.

But what does it mean? Which are the repercussion under security perspective?

Let’s start with simple cases, user’s duplicate profiles that are around 4.8% of total amount of registered users.

Then we have the “User-misclassified accounts” amounted to 2.4% such as profiles related to pets, objects or businesses.

Another 1.5% of total is composed by users classified as “undesirable”.

From the economic perspective the social networks have un undisputed marketing value related to the critical mass of users that it loyalty, millions of people that daily exchange any kind of information, a good chunk of the planet is ensnared by these powerful networks, but 8,3 millions of accounts are not related to human individuals and this represents a loss of economic power attributed to the popular company, at least in commercial terms, related solely to the audience attainable by advertising and commercial operations more or less explicit.

But social network are principal an excellent tool for massive information gathering and mass-conditioning, thanks social networks is possible to track a detailed profile of any users, analyzing his relationship, his posts and it is also possible to retrieve data on his geo localization in the time.

Why a user need a fake account?

Well for sure because he need anonymity without leaving the social network square, he wants to chat with his lover rather than seek new relationships that can handle a flat life…. but there is also another finality, the cyber espionage and conditioning. Fake accounts can be used for the following scopes as I described in my “Social Network Poisoning” definition.

  • Replacement of identity, which is the ability to impersonate someone else for variety of purposes to intelligence social engineering.
  • Simulation of identity, creating a false profile, which does not correspond to any existing person, for malicious purposes or simply to remain anonymous.
  • Profile fuzzing, the introduction of voluntary false elements and / or non-matching to your profile to deceive intelligence systems, to prevent OSINT activities or other forms of personal gain.
  • Social graph Fuzzing, the association knowingly groups and people that have nothing to do with their interests and relations with the intention of introducing “noise” in their social graph.

Do you think it is not enough?

The personal / social bots, creating a significant number of fake profiles (e.g. millions of fake profiles) managed by machines, capable of interacting with each other and with real users in realistic mode, thus changing the “sentiment” and “conversation on ” large-scale as well as altering all the social graph, and to preclude meaningful correlations on the data.

Black curation, using real compromised users or fictitious to speak on topics on which you want to change the meaning, or to create new ad-hoc, in analogy to the black SEO (Search engine optimization) already Use the search engines.

But social networks are also considered a haven for cybercrime, identity theft, spam and financial fraud are major crimes committed and obviously false accounts are the main tool to achieve this type of crimes.

On the article proposed by BBC is proposed the experience of a correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, that set up a fake company called VirtualBagel to investigate allegations of fake “likes”.

His investigation found that the large majority of “likes” for the fake firm originated from the Middle East and Asia by fake accounts.

Last week, digital distribution firm Limited Press based on the results obtained with its own analytics software, 80% of clicks on its advertisements within Facebook had come from fake users.

Guys, we are speaking of 80% of the total amount, the company also added:

Bots were loading pages and driving up our advertising costs. So we tried contacting Facebook about this. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t reply.

“Do we know who the bots belong too [sic]? No. Are we accusing Facebook of using bots to drive up advertising revenue. No. Is it strange? Yes.”

These data are worrisome and gentlemen they demonstrate that the model on which founded the social networking is to be increasingly compromised for the reasons described.

Social Networks are poisoned!

Over a year ago we said all this to the lords of Wikipedia En that banned that my post, fortunately Wikipedia Italy has not removed it … ut my words ended up in the wind!

Or am I too victim of Wikipedia Bot? But it is another history!

Pierluigi Paganini

Specials Thanks To two great professionals and colleagues

Andrea Zapparoli Manzoni & Kalos Bonasia

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