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The use of fake profiles on Facebook for business and research

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Presentation at the Responsible Organizations in the Global Context (ROGC) Conference - Georgetown University - June 2017

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The use of fake profiles on Facebook for business and research

  1. 1. The Use of Fake Profiles on Facebook for Business and Research Attempting to Define an Ethical Framework for Experimentation and Use Nasri Messarra Assistant Professor at the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut 1
  2. 2. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Introduction • Facebook is a ‘nonymous’ environment – Anonymity & pseudonimity are not allowed (Christofides, 2009; Orchard, 2014). • Despite this rule and the Facebook Immune System, 20% to 40% of all Facebook users are fake (Krombholz, 2012; Wani, 2016). • The presence of fake profiles can be hazardous: spamming, data harvesting, spreading rumors, phishing, impersonation, etc. • For companies, ads become cost ineffective when they reach a population of fakes • Are a threat to the online ecosystem and society (Ferrara, 2015). 2
  3. 3. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Theoretical Framework • Research focuses on • Detecting fake profiles (Fire, 2012; 2013; Wani, 2016; Webb, 2008) • Studying specific types of fake profiles, mainly social bots (Bilge, 2009; Boshmaf, 2011; Elishar, 2012; Lee, 2010) 3
  4. 4. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Research Questions • What are the different types of fake profiles? Can we categorize and catalogue fake profiles on Facebook in order to understand them and their behavior? • Can we define an ethical framework for using fake profiles in scientific experiments and business practice without causing harm to users? 4
  5. 5. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Methodology • Literature Review • Experiments • Euras, 2012 • INSNA, 2014, • Université Dauphine, 2014 • Personal Experience • Debate with 40 University Students 5
  6. 6. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Literature Review • Social bots and the majority illusion (Boshmaf, 2011; Lerman, 2016) • Spamming (Sybil) accounts (Egele, 2015; Fire, 2012; Jin, 2013) • Compromised accounts (Egele, 2015) • Phishing (Stringhini, 2010; Ossian, 2009) • Like farms (De Cristofaro, 2014) • Pseudonym accounts (Zhang, 2010; Kamal, 2012; Youmans, 2012) • Secondary accounts (Meligy, 2017; Zhang; 2010) • Facestalkers (Strawhun, 2013; Jin, 2013) • Criminal stalkers (Muise, 2014) • Shadow profiles (Elmer, 2015) • Clones and impersonators (Bilge, 2009; Conti, 2012) • Experimental and honey profiles (Boshmaf, 2011; Cristofaro, 2014) • Harvesters (Boshmaf, 2011; Egele; 2015) • Security Services (Trottier, 2012) 6
  7. 7. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Results> Definition • A profile is fake if 1 of 3 conditions is met: • Profile is not controlled by the person represented in the profile. • Profile contains erroneous or misleading information about the person represented in the profile (age, gender, relationship status, profile photo, religion, political orientation…). • The profile cannot be linked to a real person unless additional information is disclosed outside the online space (pseudonym accounts). 7
  8. 8. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Results> Classification • Nature • Purpose of Existence (Families) • Types (Species) 8
  9. 9. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Results > Nature • Bots • Software and AI driven • Work as farms • Can be used for mass/blitz action • Borgs • Manually driven • Actions delayed by manual intervention • Mostly used for personal and individual objectives 9
  10. 10. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Results > Purpose of Existence • Personal Interest • Reputation • Criminal • Business • Academic Research • Socio-Political • Uncategorized 10
  11. 11. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Results > Types • Likers • Spammers • Phishers • Manipulators • Pseudonym • Secondary • Tuned • Facestalkers • Criminal Stalkers and Catfishers • Corporate Accounts • Shadow Profiles • Clones • Orphan Clones • Experimental and Honey • Harvesters • Security Services 11
  12. 12. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis > Nature & Types 12
  13. 13. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis: Types and Purpose of Existence 13
  14. 14. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis: Nature, Types and Goals Personal Research Criminal Socio- Political Business Reputation Uncategorize d Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Bots Borgs Tuned X Secondary X Pseudonyms X Facestalkers X Honeypots X Experiments X X Harvesters X X Spammers X Shadow Profiles X Corporate X Manipulators X X X X X Clones X X Stalkers X X X Phishers X X Security Serv. X X Likers X 14
  15. 15. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis: The Need for Fake Profiles • Bots detect bots • Bypass the Facebook system limitations to access one’s own data (Business) by using bots • Facebook is a goldmine of information 15
  16. 16. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis: An Ethical Framework • Avoid harm • Access public data only • Limit deception 16
  17. 17. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Analysis: An Ethical Framework • Conditions for an Ethical Approach • Profile photo should not be the photo of a real person • Names should be common or uncommon enough to create confusion • Cover photo should not be a photo of a person or a small group of people • Avoid direct interactions using private messages and reply to comments • Avoid mentioning people in posts and comments 17
  18. 18. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Conclusion • It is inevitable that fake and real profiles will share the Facebook ecosystem, at least for a while • Fake profiles may cause the Facebook system to collapse • Fake profiles are intentionally or non-intentionally causing harm not only to Facebook users but to society • Further research, studies and experiments are needed to understand the causes and effect of their presence 18
  19. 19. Introduction Theoretical Framework Research Question Methodology Literature Review Results Analysis Conclusion Discussion Discussion • Messenger bots have introduced a new way of machine-human communication on Facebook • Bots and humans should be able to recognize each other (Ferrara, 2014) • It is not uncommon for legal organizations to behave illegally and vice-versa (Very, 2012) • Renegade organization can acquire legitimacy and participate in the formal economy (Very, 2012) Should we move towards Bots-Human collaboration on Facebook? 19

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