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Facebook is testing a Messenger feature to identify suspicious accounts

Shiladitya Ray

Facebook is testing a Messenger feature to identify suspicious accounts

12 Jul 2018: Facebook is testing a Messenger feature to identify suspicious accounts

In a bid to cut down on the nuisance of fake news and spam, Facebook is reportedly testing a new feature for Messenger to identify suspicious accounts sending unwarranted direct messages.

When Messenger users receive direct messages from an account not on their friend-list, the new feature will reveal the account's country of origin by phone number, and establish whether it was recently created.

Fact: Facebook has confirmed the new feature for Messenger

"We are testing a way to provide people with more context on folks they may not have connected with previously. This is just a small test," Dalya Browne from Facebook's Messenger team confirmed in an email to Motherboard, which first reported the new feature.

How?: It seems like Facebook is looking to combat mass misinformation

While the feature looks like it's aimed at curbing unsolicited messages and spam, there's an indication that it might also be geared towards fighting misinformation and bots from countries like Russia.

In fact, the screenshot provided to Motherboard shows the feature identified a suspicious account from Russia.

Notably, Russia has proved be a thorn in Facebook's side with its bots and coordinated misinformation campaigns.

Russian propaganda: Russia has proven to be a pain for Facebook

Facebook is still dealing with the consequences of Russia's massive state-sponsored misinformation drive in the run-up to, during, and after the 2016 US Presidential Elections.

The social media giant is still in the process of suspending accounts linked to the Kremlin-tied propaganda office, Internet Research Agency.

Russian agents also reportedly enticed Americans to launch anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim protests in 2016 on US soil.

Facebook's efforts: Facebook has, apparently, learnt its lessons

Yet, it's not just Russia Facebook is trying to combat when it comes to misinformation.

Facebook is already working with researchers to understand the overall impact of misinformation on its News Feed.

Earlier, in May, Facebook also launched a literacy drive alongside a massive print advertising campaign to help educate the general public, as well as its active user base, about combating misinformation.