Facebook has removed more than 800 pages and accounts that they say have “consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior," less than a month before next month's midterm elections.
“Today, we’re removing 559 pages and 251 accounts,” the company said in a blog post. “People will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here.”
According to Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, and Oscar Rodriguez, product manager, the pages removed were using “sensational political content” to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites. Then, they could earn money for every visitor.
“Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate,” Gleicher and Rodriguez wrote in the blog post.
Facebook promised to get better at detecting and removing such illegitimate pages.
“But the difference is that these groups are upfront about who they are, and what they’re up to. As we get better at uncovering this kind of abuse, the people behind it — whether economically or politically motivated — will change their tactics to evade detection,” the company said. “It’s why we continue to invest heavily, including in better technology, to prevent this kind of misuse.”
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Facebook did not respond to a question about which way the pages leaned politically.
Conservatives have argued the company makes more of an effort to remove right-leaning content than left-leaning content. But Facebook did say Thursday that it did not take “political slant” into account when removing the pages and accounts.
A report by New York Times in August raised speculation that the company was stifling conservative voices, when it was revealed a small group of staffers had a private group because they felt their fellow employees are intolerant of their right-leaning views.
President Trump and congressional Republicans have accused Google of having anti-conservative bias, and also hinted that Facebook, Amazon, and Google could represent a "very antitrust situation.”
A draft executive order from the White House was leaked and circulated that called on federal agencies to investigate online platforms on the grounds of bias and antitrust. But White House officials said the document is not official policy, and no executive order was ever signed.