Facebook has been removing hundreds of pages, groups and accounts in Nigeria, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Reuters reports that the operation in Indonesia involved a network of over 100 fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram who had been posting content in English and Indonesian.
The closed accounts in Indonesia were either found to be in support of or criticizing the West Papua independence movement, which is active in the country’s restive easternmost region of Papua.
David Agranovich, Facebook’s Global Lead for Threat Disruption said the removed accounts formed “a network of pages designed to appear like local media organizations and advocacy organizations.”
Agranovich added that the operation in Nigeria and the other countries used fake accounts “to masquerade as local media organizations … and amplify the content they were posting.”
According to Agranovich, Facebook found evidence that some of the pages had been purchased, with regular changing ownerships, as well as deep links to Egyptian newspaper El Fagr, “which is known for its sensationalistic content.”
As a result of the investigation, Facebook has also removed El Fagr’s official media pages from its platforms.
Elections and fake news in Nigeria,Facebook tracked a third network to three marketing firms in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Nigeria.
In these countries, fake accounts spread false news on topics like UAE’s activity in Yemen and the Iran nuclear deal.
Facebook has been very strict with fake accounts after coming under fire in the last couple of years for its self-admitted sluggishness in developing tools to combat extremist content and propaganda operations.
Earlier this year, the social media giant removed accounts from Iraq, Ukraine, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand, Honduras and Israel.
In May, Facebook removed a total of 265 accounts, pages, groups and events involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior which aimed to influence elections in Nigeria and other countries.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, announced at a press conference at the time that the activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia; along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
More details about this soon.