California: Facebook Inc on Monday took down 15 pages and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India and were linked to individuals associated with an Indian IT firm, Silver Touch.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that the social media giant was only aware that ‘Silver Touch’ was an Indian IT firm which worked for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and is associated with Narendra Modi’s mobile application, the ‘NaMo App’ .
After BJP’s IT head Amit Malviya told Reuters that both the party and the app had “nothing to do with Silver Touch,” the wire agency quoted an updated statement by Facebook late on Monday that stated that the social media giant had “seen no evidence to date of Silver Touch being associated with the NaMo App on our platform.”
“We won’t be speculating about off-platform connections of the actors we took down today,” a spokeswoman was quoted by the newswire.
“The only link Facebook saw was that the company was associated with a mobile application promoted by Modi,” Gleicher was quoted as saying earlier.
Facebook had also on Monday announced that it removed 687 pages and accounts linked to the Congress party for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.
“We removed 687 Facebook Pages and accounts — the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by our automated systems — that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in India and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC),” Gleicher said in a statement.
Gleicher also stated that the social media giant has taken the step of removing the accounts on the basis of their behaviour and not their content.
The US-based social media platform added that its investigation found individuals using fake accounts to spread content, criticising Prime Minister Modi and the BJP.
“While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC IT Cell,” the statement noted.
The Congress party, however, denied the allegations.
“We don’t react to the news reports which may just be coming in, whether there are any Facebook pages which are linked to us. We will have to check and get back to you. We will have to check the veracity of the report. I don’t think any news organisation can claim that what they print is gospel, we have the right to check what has been published,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.
In recent times, Facebook has taken firm steps to regulate political advertisements in order to ensure that the platform is not used for spreading misinformation at a time when general elections in the world’s largest democracy are around the corner.