Facebook does well to block pages for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in a bid to stem the misinformation tide before the polls.
On Monday, social media giant Facebook announced that it had removed more than 1,000 pages on its platform from India and Pakistan in four distinct, unrelated and separate moves. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, stated in a blog post that more than 1,000 pages and accounts were removed due to security reasons. In one action, the company declared that it eliminated around 103 pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram that originated in Pakistan for engaging in ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’. Apart from this, the company also suspended 687 Facebook pages linked to individuals associated with the IT cell of the Congress and 15 pages, groups and accounts that had connections to an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch, the makers of the NaMo application for prime minister Narendra Modi, also on account of ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’.
Finally, a further 321 pages and accounts from India were deleted for breaking company rules regarding spam. The company clarified that while ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’ might include the sharing of “fake news” or factually incorrect information, this is not a necessary condition. The main identifier is an organised attempt to mislead.
Facebook’s role in spreading fake news first came into prominence in the probe into the allegations of Russia influencing the American presidential elections. With the Indian parliamentary elections commencing in less than ten days, all eyes are Facebook and other social media/insta-messaging services to see how they are used to impact voter decisions. Facebook has also announced its plans to start an operations centre in Delhi, which will work with its offices at Menlo Park, Dublin and Singapore, on a 24×7 basis to monitor political content.
It is also working with the Election Commission of India to monitor and regulate content on its platform as well as to implement the election body’s model code of conduct. Controlling the flow of misinformation and bigotry online is a gargantuan task and will take time, effort and coordination, but Facebook has started out on the right path.