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Facebook takes down 700 fake pages ahead of elections

687 belonged to INC IT cell while 13 were associated with BJP IT cell Silver Touch

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MUMBAI: Social media network Facebook, in its first big crackdown ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, has taken down around 700 pages associated with various political parties in India. The global giant cited “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” for removing the pages over four separate takedowns.

Out of the accounts taken down from Facebook and Instagram, 687 were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC), while 15 belonged to an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch that usually handles pages for NDA.

In a blogpost, Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher stated that the pages were taken down based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. He wrote, “We are constantly working to detect and stop coordinated inauthentic behaviour because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. In each case detailed below, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

Facebook further revealed that an advertisement amount of around $39,000 had been spent on the 687 accounts linked with the Congress between August 2014 and March 2019, while the 13 accounts linked with Silver Touch had spent $70,000 from June 2014 to February 2019.

However, none of the official accounts of either BJP or Congress have been affected by the takedown.

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