Facebook says it has removed hundreds of social media accounts that were engaging in “co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour,” which is the company’s broad phrase for election interference and other forms of public manipulation via news and social media, targeted at countries in West Africa including Nigeria.
The global social media giant said, the 265 social media accounts removed were focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, other regions included Latin America and South East Asia.
In a blog post, the company said ‘’ the people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagements’‘.
Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher said these networks also ‘‘represented themselves as locals, including news organizations and published allegedly leaked information about politicians’‘.
As a result, Facebook says it’s shut down 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, and 12 events. It also detected and shut down four Instagram accounts related to the effort. It’s also banned Archimedes Group and all of its subsidiaries, and Facebook sent a cease and desist letter to the company.
It said the people behind these accounts spent about $812,000 for ads between December 2012 and April 2019.
Five of the six African countries targeted have had elections since 2016.
Tunisia is expected to hold its national polls later this year.