NEW DELHI: On Monday, social media giant Facebook removed 687 pages and accounts with alleged links to the Congress IT cell for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. BJP used the announcement to attack Congress for spreading “fake news”. Congress, meanwhile, denied that the suspended pages and accounts were linked to the party.
Inauthentic behaviour, the social media company explains in a December 2018 blog post, is using fake accounts to disseminate content and increase engagement on someone’s own pages. “While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC IT cell,” Facebook posted.
Those handling the suspended accounts (549) and suspended pages (138) had spent $39,000 (about Rs 27 lakh in current exchange rate) for ads on Facebook. Facebook also removed 15 pages, groups and accounts linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch, for similar behaviour. This Ahmedabad-based company had spent $70,000, or about Rs 48 lakh, on ads.
Congress denied any link to the suspended accounts and pages with a tweet. “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.
In the meantime, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down,” the party tweeted. BJP, however, attacked Congress for spreading “fake news”. However, Facebook said: “We are taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. In each case detailed below, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”