In August, Facebook suspended 103 Pages, 78 Groups, 453 accounts, and 107 Instagram accounts being run from Pakistan.In its August 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) Report, Facebook has said that it has removed 3 networks of accounts including one from Pakistan, focused on both domestic audiences in Pakistan and also in India.
The incidence has been reported to the local authority as well. “We have shared information about our findings with law enforcement, policymakers, and industry partners,” said the social media platform. It further added that this network as part of its internal investigation was “suspected in coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region”
The network’s posts were in Urdu, Hindi, English, and Punjabi and were primarily engaged about regional news and current events including memes and content about social and political issues in Pakistan and India. Their content was broadly focused on India’s policies toward China, the Indian military, criticism of the Indian government, and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
These accounts had a huge follower base also. About 70,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and about 1.1 million accounts joined one or more of these Groups. Close to 11,000 accounts also followed one or more of these Instagram accounts said Facebook in its report. Many Pages and Groups posted Pakistani nationalist content, praising the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency) and ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
The people behind this network relied on fake accounts — some claiming to be based in India — to post content and manage a handful of Indian military fan Pages and Groups. 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. They also used a browser extension to automate reporting.
Facebook shared a portion of this network with the Stanford Internet Observatory on August 28. Based on this the Standford Internet observatory in its report said that the network encouraged users to mass-report accounts that were critical of Islam and the Pakistani government, and in some cases accounts that were part of the Ahmadi religious community. The network also had messaging praising the Pakistani military, along with some Indian military fan Pages and Groups of unclear purpose.
Investigations revealed that the network engaged in mass reporting and encouraged users to mass-report accounts that were critical of Islam and the Pakistani government. The network also had messaging praising the Pakistani military.
Facebook has also removed 55 Facebook accounts, 42 Pages and 36 Instagram accounts linked to US-based strategic communications firm CLS Strategies, and a small network of 13 Facebook accounts and two Pages linked to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA)
Report by Abhishek Jha