Facebook Pulls 137 Pages, Accounts, Groups, Instagram Accounts in U.K.; 31 in Romania

The social network continues its fight vs. coordinated inauthentic behavior

A sample post from one of the pages Facebook removed in Romania
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Facebook’s inauthentic behavior content removal train made stops in two more countries: the U.K. and Romania.

Head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher detailed steps the social network took in those two nations in a Newsroom post.

A total of 23 Facebook pages, 74 Facebook accounts, five Facebook groups and 35 Instagram accounts were removed in the U.K. for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior, while those figures in Romania were four pages, 26 accounts and one group.

In the U.K., Gleicher said the removed pages, accounts and groups were run by individuals who represented themselves as far-right or anti-far-right activists, and they were part of a domestic-focused network, engaging in hate speech and spreading divisive comments on both sides of the country’s political debate.

Topics addressed by those pages, accounts and groups included immigration, free speech, racism, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues, far-right politics, issues between India and Pakistan and religious beliefs, including Islam and Christianity.

Gleicher said some 175,000 Facebook accounts followed one or more of the banned pages, and about 4,500 Instagram accounts followed one of the accounts removed from that platform.

Advertising was sparsely used, as Gleicher reported that ad activity between December 2013 and October 2018 totaled approximately $1,500, paid for in dollars and pounds.

He wrote, “We identified these accounts and pages through an internal investigation into U.K.-linked coordinated inauthentic behavior. Our assessment benefited from reporting by U.K. law enforcement. We have shared information about our analysis back with law enforcement, policymakers in the U.K. and our industry partners.”

Facebook shared some example of content from the removed pages:

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In Romania, the removed pages, groups and accounts were part of a network that operated in the country and used a combination of fake and authentic accounts to mask who they were and what they were doing.

Gleicher said the pages, groups and accounts typically posted about local news and political issues, including fictitious bylines supporting the Social Democratic Party, as well as divisive narratives and promoted content hosted by several domains that presented themselves as news sites.

Some 1,550 Facebook accounts followed at least one of the banished pages, and between December 2019 and this past February, about $650 was spent on advertising, paid for in dollars, euros and Romanian Leu.

Examples of content from the removed pages follow:

Caption: Lia Olguta Vasilescu, one of the most hard-working ministers in the Government, after being denied by Klaus Iohannis for the Ministry of Transport and Development, received several other functions. As the social democrats could not go without one of the most hard-working people in the party, Olguta Vasilescu, at the request of Prime Minister Dancila, became an honorary advisor to the Prime Minister, but also the party spokeswoman. The proposal was made by the PSD President himself, Liviu Dragnea. Headline: Lia Olguta Vasilescu, Secretary of the Chamber of Deputies – deStanga
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Headline: SRU Knows Another Kind of Economy Text: Those from SRU know another kind of economy. Their economy is from a parallel society and the ones who keep promising to us the salvation of Romania seem to be a part of that society.
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Headline: NLP is Preparing to Lose Text: NLP is preparing to lose the European elections.
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Headline: The Noisiness of Certain People from EP Covers Kovesi’s Professional Gaps
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Caption: Ciolos is trying by all means to prove that he loves the communist way of thinking, this comes after he used to promote the right-wing extremists such as Avram Fitu. Lately, being led by a patriotic feeling, Ciolos also supports Oana-Maria Bogdan, member of PLUS National Council. “Oana-Maria Bogdan is the kind of woman which is needed by the romanian politics in order to gain more substance, humanity and justice,” wrote Ciolos on his Facebook page. Headline: The weirdos of Ciolos. Are we ready to live again in caves? – Time Zero
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Caption: The opposition got us already used with the launch of all kinds of fake news in the market. As a result of their fierce fear of losing the elections, brought upon them by the numbers, they are trying by all possible means to spread panic in the society. Why it can’t be dismantled the II pensions pillar? Very simple. No one can leave the private pension fund they are currently contributing to, before 5 years. Headline: Opposition’s Lies. EO 114 is Not Abolishing the II Pillar of Pensions
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