Social Media

When Facebook gave ‘room’ for unnecessary row over Kashmir

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on March 28, 2019 Published on March 27, 2019

Lists State as a country; says ‘sorry’ after furore

In a major faux pas, Facebook, in a blog post on Tuesday, identified Kashmir as a separate country. But, almost 24 hours later, once it started getting bombarded with questions from the Indian media, the California-headquartered company realised its mistake and corrected the error. The blog post related to a campaign against ‘fake’ pages.

Queries from BusinessLine and other dailies to Facebook India’s spokesperson led to the removal of the word “Kashmir” from the “Newsroom”, written by Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Facebook Cybersecurity Policy.

The spokesperson said: “We mistakenly included ‘Kashmir’ in our blog post when listing the countries and regions impacted by the Iranian network we disrupted for coordinated inauthentic behaviour. Kashmir was the subject of some of the content shared by this network, but it should not have been included in that list. We have corrected this in the blog post and we apologise for any confusion caused.”

The updated blog post also carried the correction: “Updated on March 27, 2019, at 6:02 AM PT to delete a reference to ‘Kashmir’ that was incorrectly included in the initial list of countries and regions targeted by the Iranian network.”

Removal of accounts

Facebook said that it had removed 2,632 pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on its site and Instagram. The blog post said: “Today, we removed 513 pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour as part of multiple networks tied to Iran. They operated in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kashmir, Kazakhstan or broadly across the Middle East and North Africa.”

The blog post had said that the page administrators and account owners represented themselves as locals and made-up media entities, often using fake accounts and impersonating real political groups and media organisations.

“They posted news stories on current events and frequently re-purposed and amplified content from the Iranian state media about topics including sanctions against Iran; tensions between India and Pakistan; conflicts in Syria and Yemen; terrorism; tensions between Israel and Palestine; Islamic religious issues; Indian politics; and the recent crisis in Venezuela,” Gleicher said.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review linked these accounts to Iran,” he added.

Given the sensitive nature of the issue, the escalating tension between India and Pakistan revolving around Kashmir and the upcoming general elections in India, Facebook should have been more careful in its statements, experts tracking the industry said.

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Published on March 27, 2019
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