Facebook, plagued by one revelation after another of people gaming its platform through black hat social media management, has brought on board a team of experts to spot vulnerabilities before bad actors can exploit them.
BuzzFeed broke the news last week that Facebook has hired ex-intelligence officers, media buyers and researchers to test its products and figure out the worst things that could be done using the platform. Called the “Investigative Operations Team,” the group will examine such products as Facebook pages, Instagram, Messenger and other tools within the company to see how malicious social media management could be used to destructive ends.
According to BuzzFeed:
Facebook told BuzzFeed News the team is searching for troubling behavior in countries like Myanmar, examining keywords and other signals that could be used to promote violence. And it’s investigating Facebook’s merchant tools, attempting to spot problematic product sales.
“What we have now is a series of people who are truly looking for how could you possibly do something wrong,” Facebook Business Integrity Director Lynda Talgo told BuzzFeed News. Because the team is still being built out, she declined to specify the number of people on it, or the bad activity it’s found to date. “Their entire job is to look forward and figure out what’s coming around the corner.”
As BuzzFeed points out, Facebook’s new team is part of a shift in Silicon Valley thinking brought on by those who have used such tools as social media management and SEO manipulation to cause trouble.
The news site mentions that Google and Twitter, like Facebook, have taken on some responsibility for policing some of their offerings more closely. Google has put together its own “Intelligence Desk” to monitor potential trouble on YouTube. Twitter has started cutting down the visibility of tweets from users whose behavior indicates they’re trying to game the system.