In a rare social media purge ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections, the Facebook has announced that it is removing 687 pages and accounts — the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by our automated systems — that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress. The announcement comes just 10 days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha Elections.
The individuals behind this activity used fake accounts, the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by our automated systems, and joined various Groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement on their own Pages, the social media giant said.
“The Page admins and account owners typically posted about local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming elections, candidate views, the INC and criticism of political opponents including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC IT Cell,” Facebook said while detailing about the purge.
“We removed 103 Pages, Groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network that originated in Pakistan,” Facebook said in a statement. “The operations we found to be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior were two distinct sets of activity in India and one network in Pakistan. We didn’t find any links between the campaigns we’ve removed today, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” the statement added.
The Election Commission declared the schedule for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on March 10. The Lok Sabha Elections 2019 will be held in seven phases, starting from April 11. The results will be declared on May 23. The Election Commission said 91 constituencies will go for polls in the first phase on April 11, followed by 97 constituencies in the second phase on April 18. The second phase will be held on April 18, third on April 23 and fourth on April 29, fifth on May 6, sixth on May 12 and seventh phase on May 19. In the first phase, 91 constituencies will go for polls, 97 constituencies in the second phase, 115 constituencies in the third, 71 in the fourth phase, 51 in the fifth phase, 59 in the sixth phase and 59 in the seventh phase.