Facebook Purges Hundreds of ‘Inauthentic’ Pages and Accounts Ahead of Midterm Elections
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The social networking giant said in a blog post on Thursday that it is removing 559 pages–the public profiles of firms and celebrities–and 251 accounts, claiming that they were intentionally misleading people, engaging in “inauthentic behavior,” and posting spam.
Although a lot of the accounts and pages that Facebook typically removes involve scams intended to sell “fake sunglasses or weight loss ‘remedies,’” Facebook said that shady actors are increasingly sharing “sensational political content.”
This questionable political content, which Facebook said covers the gamut of the political spectrum, helps these bad actors “build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site,” the company said.
“And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the ‘news’ stories or opinions these accounts and pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate,” Facebook executives said in the post. “This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior–such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam–rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove.”
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Facebook did not name in its blog post any of the pages and accounts that it removed, but several media outlets reported that they included groups with names like “Reverb Press,” “Nation in Distress,” “Right Wing News.” and “Snowflakes.”
The progressive non-profit Media Matters cited over the summer that Nation of Distress was one of the biggest spreaders of conspiracy theories and propaganda on Facebook.
Nation In Distress is one of the most popular (and extreme: https://t.co/F5drgCUm5x) right-wing meme pages on Facebook. In the past 72 hours, they have:
– pushed a conspiracy from fake news sites
– resurfaced an old Clinton conspiracy
– re-posted Russian propaganda pic.twitter.com/t2t5KyZRuG
— Natalie Martinez (@natijomartinez) August 21, 2018
Some of the other misleading pages previously highlighted by Media Matters included “Dean James III%”, “USA in Distress,” and “The voice of the people.” These pages are currently inaccessible, suggesting that Facebook removed them as well.
Fortune contacted Facebook for more information and will update this post if it responds.