Facebook takes down scores of Myanmar accounts, pages and groups

By GEOFFREY GODDARD | FRONTIER

YANGON — Facebook has removed more than 200 accounts, pages and groups and some Instagram accounts for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in Myanmar, it said in a statement on August 21.

Over the past year, Facebook said it had taken down three other networks in Myanmar for engaging in such behaviour.

The social media giant removed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups, and five Instagram accounts, the statement said, quoting Mr Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy.

It said that about 900,000 accounts followed one or more the pages, about 67,000 accounts had joined at least one of the groups and about 400 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.

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It said less than US$1,200 spent on Facebook and Instagram ads was paid for in US dollars and Russian rubles.

“The people behind this activity used fake accounts – some of which had already been disabled by our automated system – to promote their content, increase engagement, and manage Groups and Pages,” Facebook said.

“They frequently repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities, and the military,” it said.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military.”

The pages, groups and accounts had been taken down based on their behaviour, not on the content they posted, Facebook said.

“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” it said.

It said the accounts had been identified through its investigations into suspected “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in the region.

Facebook said its efforts “to help keep our community in Myanmar safe”, included continuing to tackle hate speech and misinformation and preparing for the general election in 2020.

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