SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook on Thursday, just weeks before the US midterm elections, announced that it had removed more than 800 pages and accounts that the company said violated its rules “against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
The company made the announcement in a blog post which said that “increasingly” spam networks have started using “sensational political content — regardless of its political slant — to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites.”
“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,” the Facebook blog post said.
However, a Facebook spokesperson would not specify to CNN Business how many of the 559 pages and 251 accounts removed were either political in nature or using political messaging to drive up clicks and engagement. The spokesperson stressed the company took action “against behavior violations, not content violations.”
The content violations included using fake accounts, artificially inflating engagement, deceptive coordination, and driving people to ad farms, the Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business.
One of the pages removed by Facebook, according to the spokesperson, was Right Wing News, a destination for news from the right. The page had more than 3 million followers, according to an archived version of it.
Another page removed from Facebook, according to a Facebook spokesperson, was Reverb Press. An archived version of the page, which provided news from the left, showed that it had more than 800,000 likes.
Since the 2016 election, Facebook (FB) has fallen under scrutiny from lawmakers for allowing misinformation to flourish on its platform. The social media company has also received significant criticism for failing to protect the data of users, most recently after it announced that millions of users may have had their information accessed by hackers.