Originally posted on Rest of World by Sophie Zhang

I am a former Facebook employee who was fired in September 2020, after working for over two and a half years as a member of the fake engagement team. I became a whistleblower earlier this year.

While my work at Facebook protecting elections and civic discourse has been widely reported on, that was conducted in my spare time. My actual job and team focused on stopping the use of inauthentic accounts to create engagement through likes, comments, shares, fans, and more. Such accounts are rare in the West, but common in the Global South.

During my time at Facebook, I saw compromised accounts functioning in droves in Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. Most of these accounts were commandeered through autolikers: online programs which promise users automatic likes and other engagement for their posts. Signing up for the autoliker, however, requires the user to hand over account access. Then, these accounts join a bot farm, where their likes and comments are delivered to other autoliker users, or sold en masse, even while the original user maintains ownership of the account. Although motivated by money rather than politics — and far less sophisticated than government-run human troll farms — the sheer quantity of these autoliker programs can be dangerous…

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