Facebook removed fake accounts last month in Pakistan as it seeks to combat ‘influence operations’ on its platform. In a blog post, the internet giant said it had detected the network as part of its internal investigation into suspected coordinated activity in the regions. The users behind this network on fake accounts (some claiming to be based in India) post comments and manage a handful of Indian military fan pages and groups, it said.
The social media giant said: “The vast majority of the accounts, pages, and groups engaged in coordinated reporting of content and people that were critical of Pakistan’s government or supportive of India and some engaged in spam.”
Facebook shared the network details with a cross-disciplinary research program known as Stanford Internet Observatory on August 28th. According to Stanford, the system engaged in mass reporting is violating the Terms and Conditions of Facebook.
According to the report, on August 31st, the company took down 103 pages, 78 groups, 453 accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts involved in the coordinated inauthentic behavior. As per the company’s investigation, the network was posting primarily in Hindi and English about regional news and current events, including on politico-social issues of India and Pakistan.
The report also stated that the network encouraged the users to bulk report the accounts that were critical to Islam and Pakistan’s government.
Shelby Grossman, a Stanford Observatory Laboratory researcher, said: “This is the first example of coordinated mass reporting appearing in a network that Facebook has suspended. Group leaders of the troll armies with names like Voice of Islam would push posts to group and pages in the network, encouraging users to report up to 60 profiles at a time.”