Facebook has recently removes around 700 pages and accounts of the political parties ahead of the national elections. Of these, 687 pages and accounts were linked to “individuals associated with the IT cell of Congress” but there were 15 pages, groups and accounts that were spreading pro-BJP information, Facebook said in a statement.
While the number of Congress pages removed was higher, those pages had only 2 lakh followers, said Facebook. In contrast, the pro-BJP content 1 Page, 12 Facebook accounts, 1 Group and 1 Instagram account had over 26 lakh followers.
“Around $70,000 USD in spending for ads on Facebook, paid for in Indian rupees. The first ad ran in June 2014 and the most recent ad ran in Feb 2019,” Facebook said.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that this activity was linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch,” said Facebook.
They were using both authentic and fake accounts to share content about local news and political events. There were posts on government action, the upcoming elections, the BJP and alleged misconduct of political opponents, including the INC, the company further added.
Facebook said all the accounts were removed not for political content but coordinated inauthentic behaviour, meaning these were fake accounts used to mislead and manipulate people.
Now the Congress has recently tweeted, saying no official page was taken down, while BJP hasn’t respond yet.
This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected.— Congress (@INCIndia) April 1, 2019
In the mean time, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down.
The act was a part of Facebook’s efforts to stop the spread of misinformation especially ahead of the elections.