June 18, 2019

Around 800 Pakistani and Indian Facebook accounts, pages and groups removed for “inauthentic behavior

Facebook has removed around 800 accounts, pages and groups from Facebook and Instagram and linked to both India and Pakistan for displaying “inauthentic behavior.”

Explaining what it meant by “Inauthentic behavior”, Facebook said: “We’re taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted.” It added: “the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

Majority of the accounts recently removed were linked to India. According to Facebook,  they removed two separate sets of accounts and pages from Facebook and Instagram in India.

Interestingly, 687 accounts and pages linked to opposition political party Indian National Congress were removed whereas only 15 accounts, pages and groups were taken down from Facebook and Instagram that were linked to ruling Bhartia Janta Party, BJP.

Despite the fact that accounts and pages linked to INC removed by Facebook were huge in numbers, Facebook noted that they were merely followed by 206,000 accounts and  had spent US$ 39000 on advertisements during August 2014-March 2019. On the other, the 15 pages, groups and accounts linked to BJP on Instagram and Facebook were followed by more than 2.6 million accounts and had spent US$70,000 on Facebook advertisements during June 2014-February 2019.

Delving into the details of the nature of content being shared by these accounts, Facebook noted that those linked to INC 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).” On the other hand, the pages, accounts and groups linked to BJP posted about “local news and political events, including topics like the Indian government, the upcoming elections, the BJP and alleged misconduct of political opponents including the INC. ”

Pakistan:

Facebook removed 103 accounts, pages and groups linked to Pakistan for engaging in coordinated “inauthentic behavior”.  According to Facebook, these accounts were linked to “linked to employees of the ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) of the Pakistani military” and involved in posting about “local and political news including topics like the Indian government, political leaders and military.”

Interestingly, the Pakistani accounts spent far less money on the advertisements (US$1100) (May 2015-December 2018) and garnered more following (2.8 million) online as compared to INC and BJP despite that they spent more money on advertisements.

It is to be noted that  Facebook removed 2632 accounts, groups and  pages from Facebook and Instagram  for being involved in “Inauthentic Behavior.” These accounts were linked to were linked to groups in Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo but did not seem to have any connection with each other.

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