Facebook has removed 65 Facebook accounts and 35 Instagram account, connected to the Spanish political party Partido Popular, for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Around 50,000 accounts followed at least one of the removed Instagram accounts, and the group spent about $1,275 on Facebook ads. Twitter has also removed 259 accounts operated by the Partido Popular for “falsely boosting public sentiments online. In fact, Facebook conducted its investigation on a tip from Twitter.
Deleted posts included local and national political news and issues such as elections and criticism of its political opponents. The accounts were being used to comment on, amplify and spread their own content and posts by other accounts.
Facebook claims that a majority of such fake accounts were suspended by its automated systems. Facebook added they are taking down pages, groups, and accounts based on their behaviour and not the content that they post.
Twitter took down several accounts
Apart from removing 259 accounts in Spain, Twitter has also removed over 10,000 accounts for being involved in political information operations, these accounts came from UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China. Some of the accounts were backed by state media in Saudi and China.
Facebook’s previous removals for misinformation
This is not the first time that Facebook has suspended accounts, pages, and groups that are found to be disseminating misinformation. Prior to this:
- In August, Facebook removed five accounts, seven pages, and three groups, run by individuals associated with the Chinese government, and which frequently posted content on political issues such as the ongoing protest in Hong Kong.
- Facebook removed multiple pages, groups and accounts originating from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Honduras for being involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the platform and Instagram in July this year. The company purged these accounts following an internal investigation along with help from local security forces in these areas in certain cases.
- Facebook took down multiple Russian pages, groups, and accounts on Facebook and Instagram in May. It found that these pages focused on Ukraine and posted content relating to Eastern Ukraine, Russian politics, political news in Europe, politics in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.
- In April, Facebook removed 687 pages and accounts linked to India’s main opposition Congress party because of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the social media platform. The company wrote in a blog post: “We removed 687 Facebook Pages and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior in India and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).”