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The accounts on Facebook and Instagram that were taken down had a cumulative 7.5 million followers /Photo: Screenshot

Facebook removes accounts from Nigeria, Egypt, UAE and Indonesia

Facebook says it has removed hundreds of pages and groups involved in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” and misleading millions of users worldwide

Facebook has removed hundreds of pages, groups and accounts on its Facebook and Instagram platforms from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, citing “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” aimed at misleading social media users. 

A total of 443 Facebook accounts, 200 pages and 76 groups, as well as 125 Instagram accounts, were removed, the social media platform said on Thursday.

They were traced to three separate and “unconnected” operations, one of which was operating in three countries, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Nigeria; and two others in Indonesia and Egypt, to spread misleading posts and news articles.

Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp, said the accounts were engaged in spreading content on topics like UAE’s activity in Yemen, the Iran nuclear deal and criticism of Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

Those operations created “networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were, and what they were doing,”  Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in the statement. 

In all, the accounts on Facebook and Instagram commanded an estimated 7.5 million followers.

The company added that it is taking down the accounts “based on their behaviour, not the content they posted”.

“In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves.”

Facebook defines coordinated inauthentic behaviour as “when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.”

Facebook is also making attempts to prevent online abuses and spread of misinformation, including in political election campaigns.

The spread of fake news and propaganda, however, is not limited to individuals and private companies.

According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford and published in late September, a “handful of sophisticated state actors” are using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to influence a global audience.

Adira Kallo with agency report

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