Nine Facebook pages and six personal accounts along with 15 Twitter accounts linked to political parties in Bangladesh were removed from the social media platforms just 10 days before the country’s general elections, Reuters reported.
Facebook removed the pages due to “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” a post on the company’s newsroom page stated.
Some of the Facebook pages mimicked trusted independent news sources, such as the BBC, in an attempt to gain readers, however, according to Reuters, they were linked to the Bangladesh government.
Twitter also removed 15 accounts that had ties to the government, according to a tweet from Twitter Safety.
“Working with our industry peers we identified & suspended a very small number of accounts originating from Bangladesh for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation,” Twitter Safety said. “Based on our initial analysis, it appears that some of these accounts may have ties to state-sponsored actors.”
“Our investigations are still ongoing & our enforcement actions could expand. However, at this point, we have taken action on a total of 15 accounts. Those accounts had a relatively low number of followers, with most having fewer than 50. As we have in the past, we will publicly release information about these accounts when we complete our investigation.”
Those accounts had a relatively low number of followers, with most having fewer than 50. As we have in the past, we will publicly release information about these accounts when we complete our investigation. More details here: https://t.co/tjD9bWvCKx
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) December 20, 2018
Reuters reported that Bangladesh’s interior minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, promised retribution against those behind the fake accounts.
“Even if someone has a link with the ruling party, he will not be spared,” Khan told Reuters.
Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a statement that the company did not want the accounts to mislead anyone.
“We are continuously working to uncover this kind of abuse,” Gleicher said.
“Today’s announcement of 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.
“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,” he said.
Facebook said in its blog post that the accounts and pages had spent around US$800 on Facebook advertising, beginning in July 2017 through November 2018.
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