Facebook and Twitter said on Thursday they had removed accounts and fake news pages linked to the Bangladesh government that had posted anti-Opposition content, days ahead of an election in the South Asian nation.
Facebook, Bangladesh’s most popular social network with an estimated 30 million users, said it had removed nine fake news pages “linked to individuals associated with the Bangladesh government” which mimicked those of independent news outlets.
It also took down six accounts as they, along with the pages, were found “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. One of the accounts had 11,900 followers.
Bangladesh’s interior minister, Assaduzzaman Khan, said action would be taken against people behind the fake accounts. “Even if someone has a link with the ruling party, he will not be spared,” Khan said.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a statement that Facebook did not want accounts created to mislead anyone.
“This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook under our misrepresentation policy because we don’t want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing,” Gleicher said.
Twitter said it had identified and suspended 15 accounts originating from Bangladesh for “engaging in coordinated platform manipulation”.
“Based on our initial analysis, it appears that some of these accounts may have ties to state-sponsored actors,” it added. The accounts had fewer than 50 followers, it said.
Facebook and other tech giants are under pressure to increase efforts to remove misleading or illegal content, and ensure fake news is not uploaded and disseminated. Although Facebook has stepped up fact-checking, it still faces criticism that it is too slow to close rogue accounts.
Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion security force, which has been given the job of monitoring online content in the run-up to the Dec. 30 polls, did not comment on the Facebook statement. But he said his team had arrested 30 people in recent weeks. Reuters