Facebook removes 559 'inauthentic pages' ahead of U.S. midterms

Facebook on Thursday announced the removal of 559 Pages and 251 accounts that it says broke the company’s rules against spam and “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

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The company said it chose to disclose the removal of these accounts and pages due to the “timing ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.”

Facebook said many of the Pages in question were using fake accounts to share links across groups on Facebook. Those accounts would hit the Like button on those links, artificially inflating engagement, the company said in a blog post.

“They post clickbait posts on these Pages to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms,” the company said. “This activity goes against what people expect on Facebook, and it violates our policies against spam.”

The company didn’t specifically accuse the accounts of spreading fake news related to the midterms, only saying that they shared “news” stories and artificially inflated engagement to help the stories spread.

“…these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site. And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the ‘news’ stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate,” Facebook said in the blog post.

The move is the latest effort by Facebook to combat the spread of fake accounts and misinformation on its service, which has been a major issue and source of criticism for the company since the 2016 U.S. elections.

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