Facebook removed 32 pages and accounts involved in ‘inauthentic behaviour’ from both the Facebook and Instagram platforms.
The move comes as part of the social network’s ongoing battle against bad actors. These malicious groups use the social network to mislead others. While it’s still early in the company’s investigation, Facebook released information the platform gathered to the public and law enforcement agencies.
Facebook discovered that more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages. The actors created the first page in March 2017 and the most recent in May 2018.
The pages had more than 9,500 organic posts and one post on Instagram.
Additionally, the pages ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on both platforms. The ads were paid for in American and Canadian dollars. Ads ran between April 2017 and June 2018.
Finally, the pages created about 30 events since May 2017. The largest event had roughly 4,700 accounts interested in attending and 1,400 who said they would attend. About half the events had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending.
Facebook also says the bad actors were most careful to cover their tracks. This is likely due to actions Facebook took to prevent this kind of abuse. Some behaviour is consistent with the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) behaviour preceding and following the 2016 U.S. elections.
Furthermore, the social network found connections between some disabled IRA accounts and these accounts.
One of the accounts created a Facebook event for a protest in Washington, DC. Inauthentic admins from the page connected with five admins from legitimate pages to co-host the event. Without knowing it, these five admins helped build interest in the event, as well as posted information about transportation, materials and locations so people could get to the event.
Facebook disabled the event and will inform the approximately 2,600 users interested in the event about what happened.
The social network is still working to learn more about these bad actors and who they are. Facebook says it will release more information as it learns more.
This is a solid change for the company. It’s good to see the company working to shut down bad actors and abuse on the platform instead of failing to remove it.