Meta (formerly Facebook) is on track to expand the Facebook Protect program to 50 countries including India by the end of the year.

"As part of our ongoing improvements to security, we’re expanding Facebook Protect, a program designed for people that are likely to be highly targeted by malicious hackers, including human rights defenders, journalists, and government officials," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy said in a blog post.

"These people are at the center of critical communities for public debate. They enable democratic elections, hold governments and organizations accountable, and defend human rights around the world. Unfortunately this also means that they are highly targeted by bad actors," Gleicher added.

Program expansion

The program was first tested in the United States in 2018 and was expanded ahead of the 2020 US elections. The company began the global expansion of the program in September 2021. Since then, over 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect, and of those, nearly 950K accounts are newly enrolled in two-factor authentication.

"We are on track to expand the program to more than 50 countries by the end of the year, including the United States, India, and Portugal," Gleicher said.

The program is meant for users who are at a higher risk of being targeted by malicious hackers. Facebook Protect helps these groups of people adopt stronger account security protections, like two-factor authentication, and monitors for potential hacking threats.

Users need not take any action unless they get a notification on Facebook that they are eligible to enroll.

Gleicher further said that two-factor authentication particularly by using third-party authentication apps can help improve security significantly.

"However, this important feature has been historically underutilised across the internet — even by people that are more likely to be targeted by malicious hackers, such as journalists, activists, political candidates and others," Gleicher said.

"With Facebook Protect, we worked to make enrollment and use of two-factor authentication as frictionless as possible for these groups of people by providing better user experience and support," Gleicher added.

The platform also started to make it mandatory for certain users.

"We’re also starting to require that they use it. We know that there will always be a small subset of users that won’t immediately enroll, for example those that happen to be less active on our platform at the time of a given mandate. However, we believe this is an important step forward for these highly targeted communities," said Gleicher.

However, according to the blog post the result so far has been encouraging with adoption rates surging to over 90 per cent in one month for these groups during early testing by simplifying enrollment flows, improving customer support, and mandating Facebook Protect.

The platform will "carefully" expand this requirement globally over the next several months.