Facebook shuts down accounts linked to Pakistan's military


ISLAMABAD (AP) — Facebook said Monday it has shut down more than 100 misleading pages, groups and accounts linked to the Pakistani military.

It said the accounts were eliminated because they engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” — a term used to refer to fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections — and not because of the content that was posted.

Facebook has been disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar  , Bangladesh and Russia .

Facebook said the material in question included posts praising the Pakistani air force, mocking the air force of archrival India and expressing support for anti-India protests in the disputed Kashmir region. Facebook said 2.8 million accounts follow one or more of the pages in question.

Those behind the online activity tried to conceal their identities and pass themselves off as ordinary users but were actually employees of Inter-Service Public Relations, the media arm of the Pakistani military, Facebook said.

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There was no immediate comment from the military. The ISPR is not part of Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s main spy agency.

Facebook said it also removed nearly 700 pages and accounts linked to an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress, a political party, and 15 pages, groups and accounts linked to an Indian IT firm. It said the two networks had spread posts about domestic politics ahead of India’s general election, which will be held in phases from April 11 to May 19.

Facebook said last week it is taking a variety of measures to prevent the spread of false information ahead of the voting, from blocking fake accounts to employing third-party fact-checking organizations.

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