Taking an action against fake pages and accounts used for misrepresentation ahead of polls, social media giant Facebook has removed about 687 of them (138 pages and 549 accounts) linked to the Congress party.
Social media firm in its investigation found several individuals using fake accounts and joined various groups to spread their content and increase engagement.
FB said that it is taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. “In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy in FB blog.
They were engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC), he added.
The Page admins and account owners typically posted about local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming elections, candidate views, the INC and criticism of political opponents including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The pages and accounts removed had spent around $39,000 for ads on the social networking platform.
It also removed 15 Facebook Pages, Groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior in India and were linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch, which posted about pro-BJP, Modi posts and alleged misconduct of political opponents including the Congress.
Meanwhile, the Congress said no official pages were taken down and the party has asked for details of FB pages removed from the platform.
This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected.
In the mean time, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down.
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 1, 2019
Earlier, the social networking giant had faced criticism following the Cambridge Analytics (CA) scandal from authorities around the world and asked to ensure that its platform is not used for political gains or to disseminate misinformation. The CA episode, where 87 million users data were leaked, had dented FB credibility as a platform with a neutral stand.
Besides, the Indian government had sent show cause notice to FB and warned against any abuse of the platform during the election.
To regain its credibility, FB in following months announced a series of initiatives. In an effort to create transparency for political advertising on Facebook, the company has a month ago introduced the ads transparency tool in India, following its success in the US, Brazil, and the UK.
The Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to begin on April 11.