Facebook said Thursday it pulled down more than 800 pages and accounts that posted sensational political content for violating its rules against spam and “inauthentic behavior” ahead of the US midterm elections.
“The bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behavior as our enforcement improves,” Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher and product manager Oscar Rodriguez wrote in a blog post.
The social media giant said it removed 559 pages and 251 accounts for running afoul of its rules. Facebook said some of these accounts tried to drive traffic to their websites for ad dollars and misled users into thinking they were forums for political debate. Others would use fake likes and shares so their content showed up higher in the social network’s News Feed, allowing the accounts to reach more users.
The tech firm, which has tried to stay away from becoming the “arbiter of truth,” also noted it looked at the accounts’ activity instead of its content to decide whether they should be removed.
Some of the accounts that were pulled down included conservative news sites such as Right Wing News, which has more than 3.1 million followers, and left-wing groups such as Resistance and Reverb Press, according to The New York Times.
The tech firm told the news outlet that the accounts the company removed were run by Americans. CNET reached out to Facebook for more details, but the company did not immediately respond.
Facebook, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, has been under pressure by lawmakers to protect the integrity of elections but also faces accusations it suppresses conservative voices. In 2017, the tech firm revealed it found evidence that Russians used the social network to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election and sow discord among Americans. Since then, Facebook has pulled down hundreds of accounts included some tied to influence campaigns by Iran.
First published Oct. 11, 11:34 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:01 p.m. PT: Includes more details about Facebook’s rationale.
Update, 3:52 p.m. PT: Includes more background.
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More Info: cnet.com