Facebook on Monday announced that it had removed or unpublished over 1,000 Facebook pages and Facebook and Instagram accounts from India and Pakistan for ‘inauthentic behaviour’. Of those removed, 103 accounts were linked to employees working for the Pakistani military establishment’s publicity division (ISPR), 687 pages and accounts were linked to members of an IT Cell of Congress, and 15 pages and accounts linked to an Ahmedabad-based IT firm Silver Touch. FB has unpublished these accounts and pages for what it calls “coordinated and inauthentic behaviour”. Also, 321 pages and accounts, a majority of which were unofficially posting pro-BJP’s content, were removed for violating Facebook’s policies around spam and misrepresentation.
Is this an action against fake news, as some media reports suggest?
Absolutely not. In its blog post announcing the move, Facebook said, “We are taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted.”
How does Facebook define ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’?
Facebook identifies a network of fake accounts that conceal identities and appear to be independent when they are not. Facebook’s official definition on this is: “When groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they’re doing.” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity, said: “When we work to take down these networks, it is because of their deceptive behaviour. It’s not because of the content they’re sharing. The post themselves may not be false and may not go against our community standards.” He added, “We might take a network down when it looks like it’s being run from one part of the world, when in fact it’s being run from another.” Gleicher said: “This could be done for ideological purposes, or could be financially motivated.”
How does Facebook detect such behaviour?
The company uses a mix of humans and technology. Facebook uses its “own expert investigators to look for and take down sophisticated networks”, which is done manually. It has also built technology (AI-based algorithms) to “automatically detect and remove the most common threats”.
What next for accounts that have been taken down? Can they come back?
They can. Facebook has an appeal process. Accounts taken down can ask for a review. They receive replies in a few hours usually. If Facebook sticks to its original decision, the accounts/pages can’t appeal another time.