In a mega crackdown on fake accounts and pages ahead of Lok Sabha elections, Facebook today removed hundreds of pages and accounts which were either run by fake profiles or amounted to 'coordinated inauthentic behavior' or spread misinformation.
The crackdown took down at least 687 pages run by people found to be associated with Congress party and 15 pages and accounts linked to individuals related to the IT firm which manages the mobile application for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the social media giant said in a statement.
Facebook said it had removed 12 accounts and one page, plus one group and one Instagram account, which linked to individuals related to an Indian IT firm named Silver Touch. Among other things, they shared content on the BJP and the alleged misconduct of its political rivals, Facebook said.
Asked what was Silver Touch’s link with politics, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher told news agency Reuters that Facebook only knew it was an Indian IT firm that, among other things, worked for Modi’s BJP. The only link Facebook saw was that the company was associated with a mobile application promoted by Modi, Gleicher said, without elaborating.
“We didn’t find any links between the campaigns we’ve removed today, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others,” Gleicher said in a statement.
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Separately, Facebook also took down 57 accounts, 24 pages, seven groups and 15 Instagram accounts, also for inauthentic behavior, as part of a network which originated in Pakistan and was linked to employees of a unit of the Pakistani military.
Gleicher added that Facebook removed accounts based on their behavior, not the content, and the action followed an internal investigation in the region ahead of the upcoming elections in India.