The increasing number of malicious users such as scammers and hackers is a menace that Facebook is no longer willing to tolerate. However, to put an end to their activities Facebook first needs to monitor them closely and for doing that the social media behemoth has come up with something really interesting.
Facebook’s researchers have recently released a paper wherein they have mentioned that the social media behemoth is looking forward to building a fake platform with only bots for simulation purposes. These simulations will then further help Facebook to uncover hidden bugs in the real platform. The company has been reported to be using the technology of “Web Enabled Simulation” aka WES to achieve this task.
A Web-Enabled Simulation (WES) is a simulation of the behaviour of a community of users on a software platform. It uses a typically web-enabled software platform to simulate real-user interactions and social behaviour on the real platform infrastructure, isolated from actual users.
In this particular simulation, bots will interact with other bots in the same way real users on the real platform interact with other real users. This essentially means that the bots can like, comment, share, send a friend request, and also take a darker turn by starting to harass, abuse, and scam other bots.
There are 2.49 billion Facebook users who access the platform on a monthly basis. The growing number of users has mandated Facebook to keep expanding the platform to match all different type expectations of users. In the last decade, Facebook has introduced n number of features, including Ad Centre, Business Manager, Group management, just to name a few. maintaining and scaling at the same time is always a challenging job as it could leave a few loose ends irrespective of extensive testing and staging of a product. Such bugs and issues only crop up in real-time testing scenarios, which is virtually impossible to pre-identify. The only solution is to create a lookalike platform and employing bots to use the platform identical to real users.
Different bots will portray different real-life human natures. For instance, a scammer bot may try to exhibit behaviours which are similar to real-life scammers and therefore, try to connect with bots that mimic the behaviour of real-life victims.
Instead of testing on a mockup version of the platform which was pretty much the industry standard up until now, this WES technology will enable the simulations to take place in “something very close to an actual social media platform.”
The bots will not be performing actions similar to real users, like pressing the like button. Instead, they will trigger the same code which gets triggered every time a real person presses it on the real social media platform.
This will reportedly be a game-changer for Facebook when it comes to bug detection on its platform. For example, researchers using WES can build bots whose main aim is to steal information from other bots and set them loose. Now, if these bots do end up getting access to more data after an update, this will immediately send a warning that there is a possible vulnerability in the real Facebook platform as well which needs to be closed before human scammers try to exploit it for themselves.
Researchers, however, have cautioned that “bots must be suitably isolated from real users to ensure that the simulation, although executed on real platform code, does not lead to unexpected interactions between bots and real users.”
Therefore, adhering to this instruction, the social media behemoth has stated the there will be no interaction between the two versions of Facebook at all, and that bots will not get in touch with real people.
However, they mentioned that some of the bots could end up getting access to read-only data from the real platform given the fact that the data being accessed does not violate privacy rules.
This access will be provided to help the bots better mimic real-life behaviour. However, as is clear by the name, the data will be available to “read-only”. Collected data will not be subject to any changes.
Facebook has decided to call this system WW which many are loosely translating to stand for WES World after the much-acclaimed T.V. series Westworld. It is important to note here that the social media giant is building nothing even close to West World but it is simply building a simulacron.
Simulacron is basically a world of artificial personality units which are designed to teach us more about our own selves. Also, this is not the first step Facebook has taken to battle with the increasing number of scammers.
One month ago, it was reported that the company is using Deep Entity Classification (DEC) which is an artificial intelligence-powered tool to help reduce the number of fake accounts related to spam and scam on the platform. However, the addition of this new technology surely does step it up a notch for the social media behemoth. We will keep you posted on all future developments.