Elizabeth Weise and Brad Heath:
The April purge of fake accounts reduced USA TODAY’s Facebook likesby 6 million, from 15.2 million to 9.5 million as of Thursday night. Wadsworth said Facebook told Gannett it planned to purge another 3 million accounts soon, which could reduce overall followers to as low as 6.5 million.
Merely creating accounts – even a lot of them – that violate Facebook’s terms probably wouldn’t be a crime, said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and director of the school’s Cybersecurity Law Initiative. “Beyond that, it would depend on what they did with the fake accounts.”
Facebook said in mid-April it didn’t appear the spam operation had been activated yet. It didn’t involve any paid ads. Still, Gannett had halted marketing efforts meant to attract new readers until it gets the issue under control, Wadsworth said. She said an internal investigation had found no evidence that Gannett or its marketing campaigns had deliberately attracted fake accounts.