Facebook removes 687 pages linked to Congress IT cell for pushing spam

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Image credit:  Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Facebook has removed at least 687 pages and accounts of individuals, associated with the Congress party’s IT cell. Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy for the social media giant, said on Monday, April 1 that the pages were found engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, pushing spam in India.

Gleicher also said “the pages and accounts were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress”. He revealed that the main reason for their removal was the fact that they were using network of fake accounts to conceal their identity to mislead who’s behind them.

The content on these pages were typically on local news and political matters, including the upcoming elections, candidate views, criticism of political opponents, such as the BJP. However, about $39,000 was spent for ads that ran from August 2014 to March 2019 on Facebook.

At the same time, Facebook also has removed 15 pages, groups and accounts linked to individuals associated with IT firm Silver Touch for the same reason “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

Using a combination of authentic and fake accounts, these pages pushed content on local news, political events, the upcoming elections, and criticism of political opponents including the Congress. And they spent about $70,000 for ads that ran from June 2014 to February 2019 on Facebook.

Nathaniel Gleicher also revealed that about 103 pages, groups and accounts on Facebook and Instagram, originated in Pakistan, have been removed. Facebook investigation found that they were linked to employees of Pakistani military’s Inter-Service Public Relations. They posted news on Pakistani, general interests, Kashmir, the Indian government, political leaders, military and so on under fake identity.

The Facebook crackdown has comes after the Central government’s warning to social media platforms over the attempts to try and influence the ongoing electoral process.

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