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Facebook Removes 265 Israel-based Fake Accounts

The organisation had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events and four Instagram accounts

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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

Facebook has said it has removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, Facebook Pages, Groups and events that originated in Israel and were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

This activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“The people behind this network used fake accounts to run Pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook said in a statement late Thursday.

“Page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents,” he added.

Facebook found the activity was linked to an Israeli commercial entity, Archimedes Group.

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FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

“This organisation and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter,” said the company.

The organisation had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events and four Instagram accounts.

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About 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 5,500 accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 920 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

“Around $812,000 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekel, and US dollars. The first ad ran in December 2012 and the most recent ad ran in April 2019,” said Facebook. (IANS)

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Fake Ads on Facebook Spreading Rumours About anti-HIV Drugs

"Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health," it added

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

Fake ads on Facebook are spreading rumours about the ill-effect of anti-HIV drugs, targeting LGBTQ Facebook and Instagram users and are causing significant harm to public health, a non-profit organization GLAAD has written in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“We are urgently reaching out to Facebook and Instagram regarding factually inaccurate advertisements which suggest negative health effects of Truvada PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis).

“We request that Facebook and Instagram remove the advertisements and also publicly address the misinformation that the platforms allowed to spread,” the non-profit organization said in the letter.

Using Facebook’s and Instagram’s targeted advertising programs, various law firms are attempting to recruit gay and bisexual men who use Truvada PrEP as an HIV preventative to join a lawsuit, claiming that the drug has caused harmful side effects in this patient population, specifically bone density and kidney issues.

“This is despite numerous studies underscoring the safety of TDF in HIV-negative PrEP users,” said GLAAD.

Leading public health officials, medical professionals, and dedicated PrEP navigators and outreach coordinators have shared that these advertisements on Facebook and Instagram are being directly cited by at-risk community members expressing heightened fears about taking PrEP.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.

“Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 per cent when taken daily.”

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HIV is a virus that impairs the body’s immune system badly and eventually takes the patient closer. Pixabay

By allowing these advertisements to persist on their platforms, said the letter, Facebook and Instagram are convincing at-risk individuals to avoid PrEP, invariably leading to avoidable HIV infections.

“You are harming public health.”

Facebook was yet to comment on the letter.

Facebook’s Advertising Policy regarding misinformation in ads states that “Facebook prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

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We are the organizations with “particular expertise,” said GLAAD.

They demanded immediate action to ameliorate the harm which has already been caused to those who may be seeking preventative treatment against HIV.

“Facebook and Instagram immediately remove the advertisements outlined above that are harming public health,” it added. (IANS)