Facebook takes down 687 pages, accounts linked to Congress


New Delhi. Facebook has taken down 687 pages and accounts linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).

It has also removed 103 pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network that originated in Pakistan.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said these pages and accounts were taken down after they were found violating Facebook’s policies on coordinated inauthentic behaviour or spam.

The social media giant has also removed 15 Facebook pages linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch, and another 321 Facebook pages and accounts in India that have broken rules against spam.

“We didn’t find any links between the campaigns we’ve removed today, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” Gleicher said.

When asked if similar behaviour has been observed on Facebook pages associated with other political parties in the country, Gleicher said that it is an ongoing process and investigations are underway by a global team of experts.

When asked if the action violated users’ freedom of speech, he said the action was not based on the content of the pages. Some of the pages taken down may not have been harmful or anti-social that would cause social disharmony, but may have been propagated by individuals with fake accounts on behalf of a political party.

“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,” Gleicher said.

“In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” he explained.

Facebook’s action, ahead of the upcoming elections in India, is part of its global strategy to cut down misuse of its platform.