Ahead of 2019 general election, Facebook has removed 687 Pages and accounts, most of which have been suspended by the social media giant’s automated system. These Pages and accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India and were linked to individuals associated with the IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).
The company has removed 103 Pages, Groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network that originated in Pakistan. ‘We removed 321 Facebook Pages and accounts in India that have broken our rules against spam. Unlike the first three actions, this last activity does not represent a single or coordinated operation, however, they behaved similarly and violated our policies,’ Facebook said.
According to Facebook, there were two distinct sets of inauthentic activities in India and one network in Pakistan. While Facebook didn’t find any links between the campaigns that were removed today, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.
The individuals behind the 687 Indian Facebook Pages and accounts typically posted about local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming general election, candidates’ views, the INC and criticism of political opponents including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, Facebook’s review found that it was connected to individuals associated with the INC IT Cell.
Below is a sample of the content posted by some of these Pages:
Facebook also removed 227 Pages and 94 accounts in India for violating their policies against spam and misrepresentation. These policies, outlined in Facebook’s Community Standards, are designed to make sure that people can trust the connections they make on Facebook and are not misled about the content they are seeing. These Pages and accounts were engaging in behaviours that violated Facebook's policies, including using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same name, impersonating someone else, posting links to malware and posting massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages in order to drive traffic to websites they are affiliated with in order to make money.