The Facebook investigation into fake accounts was triggered by a tip from Twitter who themselves have removed 10,000 accounts from six countries for political information operations. 259 of these Twitter accounts were in Spain operated by the Partido Popular for “falsely boosting public sentiments online.”
While they were only active for a short period of time, the accounts spam posting was enough to alert Twitter to irregular behaviour. Others accounts came from UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and China. Accounts which have been found to be actively spreading misinformation and encouraging unrest around sensitive political issues.
These revelations mark nearly one year of Twitter’s efforts to identify and remove accounts spreading political misinformation.
The recent focus has been on 100 Facebook accounts opereated by Spain’s Partido Popular. Facebook has removed 65 Facebook accounts and 35 Instagram account, connected to the Spanish political party Partido Popular, for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.
Around 50,000 accounts followed at least one of the removed Instagram accounts, and the group spent about $1,275 on Facebook ads.
Deleted posts included local and national political news and issues such as elections and criticism of its political opponents. The accounts were being used to comment on, amplify and spread their own content and posts by other accounts.
The majority of these fake accounts were suspended by Facebook’s automated systems. Facebook have informed that they are taking down pages, groups, and accounts based on the accounts behaviour, not the content of the posts as such.
This is not the first time that Facebook has suspended accounts.
In August, Facebook removed accounts associated with the Chinese government, and which frequently posted content on political issues such as the ongoing protest in Hong Kong.
Facebook took down multiple Russian pages, groups, and accounts on Facebook and Instagram in May. It found that these pages focused on Ukraine and posted content relating to Eastern Ukraine, Russian politics, political news in Europe, politics in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.
In April, Facebook removed 687 pages and accounts linked to India’s main opposition Congress party because of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the social media platform.
The recent disclosure does not reflect well on the Spanish Partido Popular in the run up to the Spanish General Elections