Social Media

Facebook takes down 687 pages ‘linked’ to Congress; party says it’s untouched

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 01, 2019 Published on April 01, 2019

Pages exhibited ‘spam-like, coordinated inauthentic behaviour’: social media major

Facebook has taken down 687 pages and accounts linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Congress.

It has also removed 103 pages, groups and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of a network which originated in Pakistan.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said these pages and accounts were taken down after they were found violating Facebook’s policies on coordinated inauthentic behaviour or spam.

The social media giant has also removed 15 Facebook pages linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm Silver Touch and another 321 Facebook pages and accounts in India that have broken rules against spam.

“We didn’t find any link between the campaigns we’ve removed today (Monday), but they used similar tactics of creating a network of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” Gleicher said.

Investigation under way

When asked if similar behaviour has been observed on Facebook pages associated with other political parties in the country, Gleicher said that it’s an ongoing process and investigations are under way by a global team of experts.

On being asked if the action violated users’ freedom of speech, he said the action was not based on the content of the page. Some of the pages taken down may not have been harmful or anti-social, which would cause social disharmony, but might have been propagated by individuals with fake accounts on behalf of a political party.

“We are constantly working to detect and stop such coordinated inauthentic behaviour because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people.” Gleicher said.

“In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” he explained.

Facebook’s action, ahead of the upcoming elections in India, is part of its global strategy to cut down the misuse of the platform.

Congress responds

In a statement on Twitter, the Congress said, “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.”

On the other hand, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Facebook removing pages linked to the Congress is “a very historical development”.

“When inquiry was done, it was found that those individuals were linked to Congress IT cell. The Congress is desperate and therefore resorting to these types of dubious means to claim support but people are sure of what they have seen of Narendra Modi government,” he said.


Published on April 01, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.