New Delhi: In a startling revelation ahead of the general elections, Facebook on Monday announced it has removed 687 spam Facebook Pages and accounts connected to individuals associated with the Congress party’s IT cell.
The individuals engaging in this coordinated inauthentic behaviour used fake accounts and joined various Groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement on their own Pages, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook.
“The Page admins and account owners typically posted about local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming elections, candidates’ views, the INC (Indian National Congress) and criticism of political opponents including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC IT Cell,” Gleicher said in a telephonic conversation from Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
“The majority of these accounts had already been suspended by our automated systems,” Gleicher added.
Facebook discovered the coordinated inauthentic behaviour in February this year.
The social media giant also discovered spam activities carried out by an Indian IT firm — Silver Touch which runs the pro-BJP page “The India Eye”.
It removed 15 Pages, Groups and accounts linked to the firm.
“They 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,” Gleicher said.
However, Congress replied to the claims of Facebook via Twitter, the party said, “This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected.
“In the mean time, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down.”
This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected.
In the mean time, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down.
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 1, 2019