Facebook Pulls Spam and Fraud from India, Pakistan

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In accordance with its "coordinated inauthentic behavior" or spam policy, Facebook announced that it removed 687 pages and accounts in India that were linked to actors associated with an IT cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).

Removing the accounts comes only weeks before the beginning of staggered elections in India, which begin on April 11. A majority of the accounts had previously been suspended by Facebook’s automated system, according to a news report from Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy.

Also removed for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior were 15 pages, groups and accounts in India that were reportedly associated with Silver Touch, an Indian IT firm.

“They posted about local news and political events, including topics like the Indian government, the upcoming elections, the BJP and alleged misconduct of political opponents including the INC. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that this activity was linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch,” the statement said.

An additional 321 accounts were removed for violating rules against spam. “This included using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names; impersonating someone else; posting links to malware; and posting massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages in order to drive traffic to websites they are affiliated with in order to make money. Unlike the takedowns for coordinated inauthentic behavior, this activity was not part of one coordinated operation.”

In addition to those accounts from India, Gleicher also noted, “We removed 103 pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a network that originated in Pakistan,” Gleicher said.

Though there are no links identified between the two groups, “they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”

In total, the 24 pages, 57 Facebook accounts, seven groups and 15 Instagram accounts linked to Pakistan had nearly 2.8 million followers. The accounts spent approximately $1,100 for ads on Facebook, paid for in US dollars and Pakistani rupees between May 2015 and December 2018.

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