Facebook kills 122 Delhi-based fake accounts targeting Gulf region, UK, US and Canada | HT Tech

Facebook kills 122 Delhi-based fake accounts targeting Gulf region, UK, US and Canada

Facebook has removed a network of 37 Facebook accounts, 32 Pages, 11 Groups and 42 Instagram accounts

By: INDO ASIAN NEWS SERVICE
| Updated on: Mar 05 2020, 22:14 IST
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo (REUTERS)

Facebook has revealed that it removed a network of 37 Facebook accounts, 32 Pages, 11 Groups and 42 Instagram accounts that originated in India and used fake accounts masquerading as media outlets to target the Gulf region, the US, the UK and Canada.

Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, the Facebook investigation found links to aRep Global, a digital marketing firm in India.

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Launched in 2013 in the Capital, aRep Global calls itself an online reputation management (ORM) firm and "works on the three pillars of repairing, branding and monitoring the online image of a business enterprise".

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The people behind this activity typically posted in English about local news and events including topics like Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen conflict, the UAE and Saudi Arabia's human rights record, criticism of Manchester City, the Premier League soccer team, and praise for sporting events in Qatar.

About 29,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 1,100 accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 74,000 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts originated in India.

"Less than $450 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for in US dollars, Indian rupee, and Bangladeshi taka. We found this activity as part of our internal investigations into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the Gulf region," said Facebook.

Last April, ahead of the general elections, Facebook announced that it had removed 687 spam Facebook Pages and accounts connected to individuals associated with the Congress Party's IT cell.

These Pages and accounts spent around 27 lakh for ads on Facebook. The first ad ran in August 2014 and the most recent ad ran in March 2019, the social media giant said.

The individuals engaged in this coordinated inauthentic behaviour used fake accounts and joined various Groups to disseminate their content and increase engagement on their own Pages, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook.

The social media giant also discovered spam activities carried out by an Indian IT firm -- Silver Touch which runs the pro-BJP page "The India Eye".

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First Published Date: 05 Mar, 22:14 IST
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