From authorities around the world, Facebook has faced immense pressure to ensure that its platform is not abused for political gains and to spread misinformation especially before elections. For this purpose, recently, Facebook has removed numerous accounts in both India and Pakistan because of the inauthentic behavior and spamming. On Monday, the company declared that most of these are linked to India’s main opposition Congress party days before elections and Pakistan’s military.
Facebook removed 103 pages, groups, and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram as they had been engaged in in authentic behavior in Pakistan; it removed 687 Facebook pages and accounts that engaged in inauthentic behavior in India that belonged to individual related with an IT cell of the Indian National Congress. The company also removed 15 of the Facebook pages that were engaged in an inauthentic behavior in India and were linked to an Indian IT firm i.e. Silver Touch. Another 321 Facebook pages, accounts, and groups have been removed for breaking rules against spam
About 103 accounts have been removed by Facebook because they have been engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on the platform linked to a network that originated in Pakistan. Faked accounts have been used to operate military fan pages, Kashmir community pages, and general Pakistani interest pages. Although, the individuals behind these accounts tried to hide their identities but the investigation revealed that they belonged to employees of ISPR of the Pakistani military.
Their presence on Facebook and Instagram revealed that:
They had 24 pages, 57 accounts, 7 groups, and 15 Instagram accounts.
Followers: one or more of these pages had 2.8 million followers; about 4,700 accounts joined at least one of these groups. Around 1050 accounts were following one or more of the Instagram accounts.
Advertising: in spending for ads on Facebook, around $1,100 were paid and the first ad ran on May 2015. The most recent ad ran in 2018 in December.
In India, the company also removed two separate and unrelated networks of Pages, Groups, and accounts. These were engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on the platforms in India. The investigation revealed that 687 Facebook pages and accounts were found to be engaged in inauthentic behavior and the individuals behind this activity used fake accounts. The company detected these accounts and suspended through automated systems and also joined various groups to disseminate their content and to increase engagement on their own pages. On the accounts, the owners usually posted local news and political issues that included topics relating to upcoming elections, candidate views, the INC, and the criticism of political opponents including the BJP party.
The presence of such accounts included:
138 pages and 549 Facebook accounts
It revealed that about 206,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages
In spending for ads on Facebook, $39,000 was paid in Indian rupees. In 2014, the first ad was played and the most recent one ran in March 2019.
The company also removed 15 pages, groups, and accounts that had been engaged in inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. A combination of authentic and fake accounts had been used by the owners and shared their content across different pages. the news was posted including topics related to the Indian government, the upcoming elections, alleged misconduct of political opponents including the INC. The investigation carried out by Facebook revealed this activity was linked to individuals with an Indian IT firm named as Silver Touch.
Their presence on Facebook and Instagram included 1 page, 12 Facebook accounts, 1 group, as well as 1 Instagram account. Around 2.6 million followers followed the page, about 15,000 accounts joined the group, and the Instagram account was followed by around 30,000. In spending on ads on Facebook, almost $70,000 had been spent including the first ad that ran in June 2014 and the latest in Feb 2019.
For violating the policies against spam and misinterpretation, Facebook removed 227 pages as well as 94 accounts in India. The policies that have been created by Facebook have been designed to make sure that people can trust the connections they make through the platform and are not misled by the available content. The pages that have been removed were engaged in behaviors that were breaking all the rules. The pages included accounts with the same name, impersonating someone else, posting a link to malware, as well as posting content across numerous networks.
According to Facebook, it removes accounts and pages that engage in such behavior on a routine basis. These include the ads of any fraudulent product or fake weight loss remedies. Multiple accounts are created with the same name by the owners and they post clickbait posts on such pages to drive people to websites. This helps them to generate fake likes and shares and create an artificial engagement of their pages.