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    Facebook Removes 687 Pages & Accounts Linked to Indian Party Ahead of Election

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    Facebook, which has over 300 million users in India, found that the page's admins and account owners typically posted local news and raised political issues, including the upcoming elections, candidate views, and criticism of political opponents, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    New Delhi (Sputnik): Facebook has removed at least 687 pages and accounts linked to India's main opposition Congress Party, two weeks ahead of the country's general election, because of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" on the social media platform.

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    "We removed 687 Facebook Pages and accounts — the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by our automated systems — that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC)," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a statement

    Facebook stated that an investigation found that individuals used fake accounts and joined various groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement.

    "We're taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted," the statement further clarified.

    Snapshots of Congress IT Cell linked Facebook pages that were shut down today for spreading misinformation and “coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India” according to FB Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher pic.twitter.com/x90ekmO5ZN

    ​"While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC (Indian National Congress) IT Cell," Nathaniel Gleicher said on Monday.

    India's seven-phase election, scheduled to begin on 11 April, will end on 19 May. Facing pressure from the Indian government to ensure its platform is not abused for political gains or to spread misinformation, the Social Media Platforms and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on 20 March presented a "Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019" to India's election commissioners after the Election Commission of India met representatives of social media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat and TikTok in New Delhi.

    READ MORE: Misinformation and Corruption Paramount Issues for Indian Voters — Survey

    The platforms also agreed to create a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism and appoint dedicated teams in the run up to the general election to take expeditious action on any reported violations. Participants have also agreed to provide a mechanism for political advertisers to submit pre-certified advertisements issued by the media certification and monitoring committee.

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    Tags:
    social media, elections, opposition, Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), Facebook, Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, India
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