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Social Media Giant Facebook Removes 687 Fake Accounts, Pages Linked to Congress

“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.”

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Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

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.

facebook, congress
Earlier Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari had said that the party needs to check the veracity of these pages/accounts, “whether the Facebook pages are linked to us”. Wikimedia

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.

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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.” (IANS)

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Facebook ‘Unintentionally’ Uploaded Emails of Nearly 1.5 mn Users

The social network said the contacts weren’t shared with anyone and are being deleted

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Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

In a latest privacy goof up, Facebook “unintentionally” uploaded the emails of nearly 1.5 million of its users during the past three years.

A Facebook spokesperson admitted on late Wednesday that emails of 1.5 million people were harvested since May 2016 to help build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend other users to add as friends.

First reported by Business Insider, the revelation came to light after a security researcher noticed that “Facebook was asking some users to enter their email passwords when they signed up for new accounts to verify their identities”.

“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” the Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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FILE – A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration, Aug. 3, 2018. VOA

“We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported,” Facebook said.

The social network said the contacts weren’t shared with anyone and are being deleted, reports CNET.

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“People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings,” said the company.

Facebook is facing the heat over several data scandals, including the massive Cambridge Analytica scandal where personal information of up to 87 million users was leaked. (IANS)