On July 31, 2018, 32 pages and accounts were removed from Facebook and Instagram because according to the company “they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Facebook stated that they were still in the initial stages of the investigation and “don’t have all the facts”.
The most followed pages from among the eight removed were: Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being and Resisters. More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these pages. These pages were created between March 2017 and May 2018.
The remaining four pages had between zero to ten followers. Other than these 17 profiles on Facebook and seven Instagram accounts, which had no followers, were removed.
“We determined that some of the activity from these accounts and pages is consistent with what we’ve seen from the IRA and we discovered that some of the accounts and pages had been connected with known IRA accounts at some point,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity, Facebook.
Furthermore, during the press call, Facebook representatives clarified that a known IRA account was a co-admin on the Resisters page for seven minutes. Another thing to note is that these pages had both authentic as well as inauthentic co-admins.
They aren’t yet sure who is behind these pages but have ascertained that admins of these accounts went to much greater lengths to conceal their identity than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) did during the 2016 US Presidential election.
“Security is an arms race, and it’s never done. We’ve made it harder for inauthentic actors to operate on Facebook, yet we face determined, well-funded adversaries who won’t give up and who are constantly changing tactics. That means we need to continually improve as well,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook.
Why were these pages removed?
The eight pages and 17 profiles on Facebook, and seven Instagram accounts were removed as they violated Facebook’s ban on coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
Collectively, 9500 organic posts were created by these accounts on Facebook and a single piece of content on Instagram.
These pages ran about 150 ads worth $11,00 on Facebook and Instagram, with the first ad created in April 2017 and the last one in June 2018.
Since May 2017, these accounts had created somewhere around 30 events with an average attendance of 100 people. The largest attendance among these events was 4700 accounts interested and 1400 confirming attendance.
Facebook has released 13 sample posts that helped them review and remove these pages. These include memes on Trump to an event for a protest against Unite the Right movement and an event for Black Elevation. You can judge for yourself using these too.
Also read: How are videos ranked on Facebook?
All 3200 people who were interested in attending the ‘No Unite The Right 2 -DC’ from August 10 – August 12 won’t be able to find the event on Facebook now and will receive the following message from Facebook at some point in the near future.
Also read: How to verify your Facebook page or account