Over the past year Facebook has been taking a stronger stance when it comes to national elections, focusing on the spread of misinformation and the use of its platform by fake accounts to influence voter opinion. The 2020 US Presidential election in particular was a major focus for the company, but it has not stopped from looking at other parts of the globe.
To that end, Facebook confirms that it has removed fake accounts in Uganda and Palestine in what it describes as “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” (CIB) to disrupt elections in both of those countries.
The company also detailed the methods by these networks used in both nations, along with sharing the figures that their removal yielded.
In Uganda, for example, Facebook says the network would, “Manage Pages, impersonate at least one public figure in Uganda, comment on other people’s content, and post in multiple Groups at once to make their content appear more popular than it was.”
The network consisted of 220 accounts, 32 pages, 59 groups and 139 Instagram accounts, all coordinating in an effort that garnered 512 000 followers. This represents a significant figure by any election metric, so the crackdown by Facebook has proven critical.
Looking at the network in Palestine, Facebook notes that the chosen method was also to impersonate, using fake accounts to pose as genuine media outlets and publishers, citing the UK as their origin. This particular network utilised 206 accounts, 178 pages, three groups and 14 Instagram accounts in order to draw 60 500 followers.
“Our investigation found links to individuals in Palestine and UAE, in addition to links between a small portion of this network and individuals associated with a recently created marketing firm called Orientation Media in Belgium,” adds Facebook’s latest report.
With politics in our own nation proving as divided as ever, it will be interesting to see if similar CIB efforts are discovered by Facebook in SA’s general elections in 2024.