Facebook has removed overall 103 pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and Instagram as part of a network that originated from Pakistan. Facebook has removed more than 1,100 pages, groups, and accounts from India and Pakistan because of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour or spam” on the social media platform.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cyber Security Policy Facebook has stated that the individuals behind this activity used fake accounts to operate military fan Pages; General Pakistani Interest pages; Kashmir Community pages; and hobby and news pages.
Facebook removed overall 103 pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour
They also frequently posted about local and political news including topics like the Indian government, political leaders and military. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that it was linked to employees of the ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) of the Pakistani military,” he said.
There were 24 pages on Facebook and Instagram, 57 Facebook accounts, 7 Groups and 15 Instagram accounts, which were removed.
About 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these pages, about 4,700 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and around 1,050 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
Around $1,100 in spending for ads on Facebook were paid in US dollars and Pakistani rupee. The first ad ran in May 2015 and the most recent ad ran in December 2018.
“We have removed pages, groups and accounts for violating Facebook’s policies on coordinated inauthentic behaviour or spam. Today’s action includes four separate takedowns — each distinct and unconnected,” stated Gleicher.
Facebook has also removed 687 Facebook pages and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India. The individuals behind this activity used fake accounts, the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by automated systems, and joined various groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement on their own pages. The Page admins and account owners typically posted about local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming elections, candidate views, the INC 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.”
These include 138 pages and 549 Facebook accounts, about 206,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, while around $39,000 USD in spending for ads on Facebook, paid for in Indian rupee. The first ad ran in August 2014 and the most recent ad ran in March 2019.
Facebook removed 15 Facebook pages, groups, and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India and were linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch. Further 321 Facebook pages and accounts were removed in India that have broken rules against spam.