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Facebook expands protection program for high-risk accounts


Social media platform Facebook is expanding its enhanced security program, which protects high-risk accounts from malicious hackers, to more than 50 countries by the end of the year.

“Human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and elected government officials are at the center of public discourse,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, global head of cybersecurity policy at Meta, Facebook’s parent company, in a Dec. 2 briefing. “As such, the consequence for society is high if their [Facebook] accounts are compromised.”

Called Facebook Protect, the program is designed to enhance two-factor authentication (2FA), increase automated defenses in the backend, and flag accounts in the social media platform’s internal system. It was first tested in 2018 ahead of the 2020 US elections.

Despite being one of the best available tools against account compromise, 2FA is historically underutilized, said Mr. Gleicher. Only 4% of Facebook’s monthly active users worldwide have adopted it as of November.

“We are investing to make 2FA as easy to use as possible,” he said. “At the end of the day, reducing security friction for users will always be essential.”

Accounts deemed high-risk by the platform will receive a prompt to enroll in Facebook Protect. 2FA is mandatory for accounts that are most likely to be targeted by bad actors.

As of this month, more than 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect, with about 950,000 newly enrolled in 2FA as a result of this prompt.

Those that do not get a prompt but are part of the aforementioned communities can register for the program voluntarily through their organizations.

Facebook Protect will be available in more than 50 countries — including the US, Portugal, Australia, India, and Thailand — by the end of 2021. — Patricia B. Mirasol

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