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The U.S. midterm elections are coming up soon. In the run-up to this, Facebook decided to remove several hundred pages related to political spam and coordinated fake behaviour. In this way, the social network is responding to the call for more action when it comes to fake news and attempts at political control.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of Facebook’s cyber security department, as well as product manager Oscar Rodriguez, write about this in a blog. The pages were not taken offline because of the content on them, but because they were not in line with the terms of use of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s social network.

Violation of the rules

Many used fake accounts or multiple accounts of the same name and placed large amounts of content on a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites, says Facebook. Many used the same techniques that make content look more popular than it actually is on Facebook. Others were ad farms that used Facebook to mislead people into thinking they were platforms for legitimate political debate.

Such tactics are not uncommon and sometimes a legitimate way to raise funds. But in those cases, pages are honest about their goals and activities. In the case of the deleted pages, it was only about earning money and seducing internet visitors and not about political games.

Dubious pages

Certain dubious pages like Right Wing News were part of Facebook’s decision to remove a lot of pages. The choice to remove them was therefore explicitly not a result of attempts to remove the content. The page – with its three million followers – and other similar pages on Facebook were therefore only removed because they were not in accordance with the terms of use.

As we get better at detecting this kind of abuse, the people behind it – whether they’re acting for economic or political reasons – need to change their tactics to prevent them from being discovered, says the company. That is why we are investing heavily, including in better technology, in order to prevent this type of abuse.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.