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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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47 Attorneys General in US Join Anti-trust Probe Against Facebook

"The District of Columbia has joined this investigation to ensure Facebook is giving a fair shake to district residents and the American people. No company gets a pass if it throttles competitors and exploits consumers," said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

In fresh trouble for Facebook, 47 attorneys general in the US have officially joined an investigation into Facebook for its anti-competitive market practices.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, “who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising”.

“We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk,” James said in a statement late Tuesday.

The investigation launched last month with support from attorneys general from eight states — New York, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington, DC.

Facebook had earlier said it will work “constructively” with the attorneys general and engage with policy makers in a discussion about the competitive environment.

“Social media is a critical part of doing business in today’s economy. Any effort by Facebook to unlawfully stifle competition could cause wide-ranging harm to smaller companies, restrict consumer choice, and increase costs for all,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

According to Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, “We are investigating whether Facebook has broken the law through anti-competitive practices or other acts that harm consumers.”

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

In a stern warning to tech giants, the US House Anti-Trust Committee has opened probes into Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and other tech giants to determine if they prevent competition and hurt consumers.

The investigation’s core is the idea that “the Internet is broken”.

“Big Tech must account for its actions. I am proud to join my Republican and Democrat colleagues in efforts to ensure Tech Giants can no longer hide behind complexity and complicity,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey added: “It’s important that the internet remains fair and open to everyone. We are participating with a broad coalition of states in an investigation of Facebook’s business practices.”

A bipartisan coalition led by New York attorney general has launched an investigation into Facebook to understand whether it stifled competition and put users at risk.

“The District of Columbia has joined this investigation to ensure Facebook is giving a fair shake to district residents and the American people. No company gets a pass if it throttles competitors and exploits consumers,” said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine. (IANS)