FACEBOOK on Friday took down over 400 pages, groups and accounts on its platform that peddle fake news, stating they were engaged in a co – ordinated inauthentic activity and operated by marketing firms in Egypt, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirate, UAE.
The takedown operation removed 211 Facebook Accounts, 107 Facebook Pages, 43 Facebook Groups, and 87 Instagram accounts which revealing the extent malicious actors across different platforms to create disinformation platforms to promote their agenda.
In a statement by Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher he explained the reasons behind shutting down the pages. groups and accounts on Facebook saying their behaviour to manipulate people rather than contents posted was a major pointer.
“Taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts were based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.
“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” he said.
Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to three marketing firms — Charles Communications in UAE, MintReach in Nigeria and Flexell in Egypt.
Facebook stated that it had tracked an operation associated with three marketing firms in the UAE, Egypt, and Nigeria specialising in the use of fake accounts to broadcast its content on topics ranging from elections and candidates, UAE’s activity in Yemen, Iran nuclear deal amongst others.
The firms involved include Charles Communications in UAE, MintReach in Nigeria and Flexell based in Egypt.
It also showed that the UAE–Nigeria network spent close to $150,000 promoting its content on Facebook, and attracted close to 1.4 million followers for the associated pages, according to the Facebook announcement. The Instagram profiles were followed by nearly 70,000 people.
“This was a network of pages designed to appear like local media organizations and advocacy organizations,” David Agranovich, Facebook’s Global Lead for Threat Disruption said in the report.
The countries affected in that Facebook accounts purge include Iraq, Ukraine, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand, Honduras and Israel.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.