Hours after Facebook put a ban on 687 pages or groups related to the IT cell of Congress, the party has responded, saying no official pages run by the INC have been taken down and all the pages run by their verified volunteers are unaffected. Early in the day, the social media giant, in a crackdown on fake accounts and spam, removed several coordinated networks for alleged 'inauthentic behaviour' on its platform.
Taking to Twitter from its official handle, Congress wrote, "This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected".
"In the meantime, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down," it added.
This is to clarify no official pages run by INC have been taken down. Additionally, all pages run by our verified volunteers are also unaffected.
In the mean time, we are awaiting a response from Facebook to provide us a list of all pages/accounts that they have taken down.— Congress (@INCIndia) April 1, 2019
Reacting to reports on Facebook removing pages and accounts linked to Congress, party leader Manish Tewari said, "We don’t react to news reports which may just be coming in, we will have to check veracity of the report whether there are any Facebook pages which are linked to us".
The BJP was also quick to react to the banning of those coordinated networks, accounts, pages and groups on Facebook's platform. Speaking to media, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Today a very historical development has taken place. Owners of those accounts were not known. It was fake. It was used to spread falsehood against Narendra Modi government".
Apart from Congress IT cell pages, Facebook has also removed 103 groups and accounts on its platform and Instagram for engaging in similar behaviour as part of a network that originated in Pakistan. Separately, it has taken down 15 pages and accounts linked to individuals related to an Indian IT firm named Silver Touch, a company associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s NaMo app.
Facebook, which has been facing flak globally for instances of user data breach, has been ramping up efforts to ensure that its platforms (that includes WhatsApp and Instagram) aren't misused to spread misinformation, especially when the general elections in the world's largest democracy are around the corner.