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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)

Next Story

US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

facebook, instant games
FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)