MASTERCLASSING

Facebook and Twitter remove accounts spreading fake news ahead of Bangladesh elections

Tyrone Stewart

FacebookAhead of Bangladesh’s general election at the end of the month, both Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts and pages for spreading misinformation about the opposition.

Nine Facebook pages and six Facebook accounts – all linked to individuals with links to the Bangladesh government – were removed for ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’ on the social network. The pages, according to Facebook, were designed to look like legitimate independent news outlets but only posted pro-government and anti-opposition content.

“The removal of these pages is just one of the many steps we have taken to prevent bad actors from misrepresenting themselves to manipulate civic discourse,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, in a blog post. “We will continue to invest heavily in safety and security in order to keep bad actors off of our platform and provide a place for people to connect meaningfully about the things that matter to them.”

Though Facebook didn’t provide the total follower numbers of the pages and accounts, it said that around 11,900 people followed at least one of the pages. The accounts and pages spent in the region of $800 on advertising from July 2017 to November 2018.

Meanwhile, over at Twitter, a total of 15 accounts – most of which having fewer than 50 followers – have been removed for the same coordinated behaviour. However, the microblogging site has confirmed that its investigations are still ongoing.

“Working with our industry peers we identified & suspended a very small number of accounts originating from Bangladesh for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation,” tweeted Twitter’s Safety team. “Based on our initial analysis, it appears that some of these accounts may have ties to state-sponsored actors.”

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