Facebook purges fake networks in US, Myanmar before Nov polls

Facebook has removed more malicious networks from its platform in October — especially in the US and Myanmar that face elections in November — and one such network has been linked to Rally Forge, a US marketing firm, working on behalf of Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group.

The social network removed 200 Facebook accounts, 55 Pages and 76 Instagram accounts part of this network for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

“Rally Forge is now banned from Facebook. We are continuing to investigate all linked networks, and will take action as appropriate if we determine they are engaged in deceptive behavior,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy at Facebook said in a blog post on Thursday.

Many of these accounts used stock profile photos and posed as right-leaning individuals from across the US.

Most recently, the people behind this activity commented most frequently on Pages of the Washington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and The New York Times.

This network showed some links to on-platform activity by Turning Point USA.

“This network appears to have started its operations in 2018 and continued through 2020. Its election-focused behaviour began in 2018 in the run-up to the midterms, it then went largely dormant until June 2020,” Facebook informed.

More than half of the networks removed this month targeted domestic audiences in their countries and many of them were linked to groups and individuals associated with politically affiliated actors in the US, Myanmar, Russia, Nigeria, Philippines and Azerbaijan.

Facing widespread criticism in Myanmar, Facebook said it has removed 17 Pages, 50 Facebook accounts and six Instagram accounts for violating its policy that originated in Myanmar.

These accounts often used stock female profile photos and photos of celebrities and social media influencers.

“The individuals behind this network posted primarily in Burmese about local news and current events including topics like military activities, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, local Covid-19 response, criticism of the the National League for Democracy, a political party in Myanmar, and Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as a small number of anti-Rohingya posts,” Gleicher wrote.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to members of the Myanmar military”.

Facing flak for failing to prevent hate speech from spreading on its platform in Myanmar, Facebook last month announced additional steps aimed at protecting the integrity of November elections in the country.

The social network who had admitted that they have been “too slow” to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech in Myanmar said it will significantly reduce the distribution of content that its proactive detection technology identifies as likely hate speech.