Facebook took down 200 social media accounts, groups, and pages in the Philippines for engaging in ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’ that misled others about who they were and what they were doing.
Facebook Cyber-security Policy Head Nathaniel Gleicher explained that they removed 68 accounts, 67 pages, and 40 groups in their social media platform, along with 25 accounts in Instagram for their behavior and not for their content.
Among the Facebook pages taken down are ‘Trending Now’, ‘Duterte Supporters’, and ‘Pinulungang Binisaya’.
“In this 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,” Gleicher said in a statement.
Gleicher said that individuals used a combination of authentic and fake accounts to disseminate content to a variety of Facebook pages and groups.
He added that the users of the said accounts posted news regarding the upcoming elections in the Philippines, updates and views of the candidates, alleged misconduct of politicians, and controversial events that allegedly occurred during previous administrations.
While the people behind the accounts attempted to conceal their identities, the investigation of Facebook showed that they were linked to a network organized by Nic Gabunda.
Gabunda is known to be the social media campaign manager of President Rodrigo Duterte during the 2016 elections.
Facebook said that about 3.6 million accounts followed one or more of the taken down Facebook pages, and about 1.8 million accounts joined at least one of the groups. Meanwhile, around 5,300 accounts followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.
The social media platform further revealed that the accounts paid around US$ 59,000 for advertisements on Facebook with the first in January 2014 and the most recent in March 2019.
“We identified these accounts and Pages through an ongoing internal investigation into Philippines-linked coordinated inauthentic behavior. Our assessment benefited from open source reporting,” Gleicher said.
Facebook also said that they have shared relevant information with policymakers and industry partners.
The social media platform added that will build better technology, hire more people, and work more closely with law enforcement, security expert, and other companies to stop such abuse of their services.
“While we are making progress rooting out this abuse, as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge and we constantly have to improve to stay ahead,” Gleicher stressed.