Facebook and Twitter Delete Hundreds of Accounts for Platform Manipulation

The social media giants – Facebook and Twitter stated recently that they removed malicious accounts mainly from Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. They have disclosed that these accounts are spreading spammy content on disruptive political themes. These accounts have faked themselves as locals from 26 countries such as Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. Mainly, operators from Iran controlled many of the accounts.

Researchers probing the accounts wrote, “The pages posted content with a strong bias for the government in Tehran and against the ‘West’ and local neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.” Mostly, they have posted news stories from current political events such as Israel-Palestine relations, conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

These fake accounts targeted users all over the world, mostly from the Middle East and South Asia. They were spreading disinformation mainly with the intent of disturbing politics and elections. Moreover, the suspected pages hosted eight events. Facebook could not verify if the events really took place. Besides, the accounts purchased nearly $30,000 in advertising on social networking sites.

Facebook says it has further removed 207 Facebook Pages, 800 Facebook accounts, 546 Facebook Groups, and 208 Instagram accounts, from its service for violation of their policies. These pages, accounts, and groups were linked to the Saracen Group – an online group in Indonesia. The social media giant is working closely with law enforcement, security experts and other technology companies to root out the abuse.

Facebook Preventing Abuse by Investing Heavily in Safety and Security

In recent times, Facebook has been disclosing such removals more regularly. The site says they are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity; because they don’t want their services to be misused.

Also read: These 3 Indian Designers were Recently Honoured with National Awards.

The social networking site identified these activities as coordinated inauthentic behavior on their platform.  Mainly, the abusers created a network of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing. Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cyber-security Policy said, “About 2 million accounts followed at least one of these Pages on Facebook, about 1,600 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and more than 254,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.”

Further, Facebook says there is no WhatsApp activity related to these accounts. They have taken down these pages, groups, and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they post.

Twitter Taking Efforts to Protect the Integrity

Twitter says it has taken several proactive measures to remove malicious content posted by bad-faith actors. The site has taken down 2,617 malicious accounts originated in Iran, and suspended a total of 3,843 accounts from Russia. It also removed 764 accounts from Venezuela, where there was major political upheaval.

Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s Director of Public Policy wrote that the company will continue to “do our best to stay one step ahead while remaining humble in the face of potential new challenges.”

Also read: SBI Leaves Server Unsecured, Exposes Customers’ Sensitive Data.

Twitter has found and suspended a very small number of accounts from Bangladesh for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation. “The Tweets were entirely in Bengali and focused on regional political themes,” wrote Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity.

As per Carlos Monje Jr., most of these accounts were suspended in advance of Election Day due to the more robust nature of our technology and internal tooling.

Currently, social media is playing a vital role during various elections around the world. As a part of their extra effort to keep people safe across their services, the sites are removing fake accounts. Further, they are using new tools and staff to bring more clarity. Surely, with a robust artificial intelligence system, they are becoming more equipped to face the challenges of fake accounts and abuse.

Leave a Comment