Business & Finance

Facebook Busts Israeli-Led Campaign to Sway Elections

Facebook has announced it removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups, and events from its service Thursday because of what it called “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

In a statement, the company said the objectionable activity originated in Israel and focused on events in Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia, along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Facebook said “the people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content, and artificially increase engagement. They also represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians.” The statement said the people in question “frequently” posted about political news, including elections, candidates’ views, and criticism of political opponents.

In the statement, Facebook said “We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted.”

Facebook said it has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the organization responsible for the posts, which it named as Archimedes Group. It said the group and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook for “repeatedly” violating Facebook policies.

In detail, Facebook said it has removed 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, 12 events, and four Instagram accounts. The accounts had, collectively, some 2.8 million followers and the groups had some 5,500 members. Archimedes Group’s spending on ads in Facebook amounted to some $812,000, paid in U.S. dollars, Israeli shekels, and Brazilian reals.

It was not clear whether the events listed by Archimedes Group on Facebook ever took place. Facebook said it could not confirm.

Source: Voice of America