Facebook, Twitter shut accounts for manipulation before Bangladesh election

In a crackdown just days before the general election, social media giants Facebook and Twitter have taken down a total of 30 pages and accounts related to Bangladesh for manipulation.

News Deskbdnews24.com
Published : 20 Dec 2018, 01:07 PM
Updated : 8 Feb 2019, 08:58 AM

Facebook has taken down nine pages and six accounts while Twitter has suspended 15 accounts.

Facebook says it took down the pages and accounts for their coordinated inauthentic behaviour on its platform in Bangladesh, with “bdsnews24” topping the list.

The webpage of “bd
s
news24” appears to be like bdnews24.com, just with an extra letter in the URL and the logo.

The other pages taken down by Facebook include “BBC Bangla” and “newsdinraat24”.

Long ago, bdnews24.com had written to regulators BTRC, Copyright Office and other relevant government, law-enforcing and intelligence agencies asking for measures to block such fake news websites.

Twitter suspended the 15 accounts originating from Bangladesh for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation.

“Based on our initial analysis, it appears that some of these accounts may have ties to state-sponsored actors,” it tweeted. “Our investigations are still ongoing & our enforcement actions could expand.”

 

Facebook discovered the pages and accounts through investigation, which began in part based on a tip from Graphika, a threat intelligence company that Facebook works with.

The social media giant discovered that these pages were “designed to look like independent news outlets and posted pro-government and anti-opposition content”, Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook cybersecurity policy, said in a statement on Thursday.

“Our investigation indicates that this activity is linked to individuals associated with the Bangladesh government.

“This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook under our misrepresentation policy because we don’t want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,” Gleicher added.

About 11,900 people followed at least one of these Facebook pages, according to the Facebook cybersecurity policy head.

For advertising, these pages spent around $800 on Facebook, Gleicher said.

The first ad was run in July 2017, and the last was run in November 2018, he added.

The social media website shared their findings with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab.

In the statement, Gleicher added three sample posts.

“We are continuously working to uncover this kind of abuse. Today’s announcement of the removal of these Pages is just one of the many steps we have taken to prevent bad actors from misrepresenting themselves to manipulate civic discourse,” the statement said.

“We will continue to invest heavily in safety and security in order to keep bad actors off of our platform and provide a place for people to connect meaningfully about the things that matter to them,” it added.

The announcement comes 10 days before the general election ahead of which many feared propaganda of fake news.

The law enforcers also arrested several people weeks before the vote on charges of running fake news websites or evil propaganda on the social media, especially Facebook.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher