Facebook removes fake accounts linked to Myanmar military

San Francisco, Aug 22 (IANS) Facebook has removed dozens of fake accounts and pages linked to the Myanmar military ahead of the upcoming general elections in Myanmar next year.

These included 89 Facebook accounts, 107 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups and five Instagram accounts.

Facebook said it removed these pages, groups and accounts as they engaged in what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behaviour", not because of the nature of content they posted.

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of these activities were linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The people behind the coordinated inauthentic behaviour in Myanmar used fake accounts to promote their content, increase engagement and manage groups and pages.

They frequently repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities and the military.

"We're removing these pages, groups and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. Over the past year, we've taken down three other networks in Myanmar for engaging in this sort of behaviour," Gleicher said.

Facebook revealed that about 900,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages, about 67,000 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and around 400 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

The people behind these activities spent less than $1,200 on Facebook and Instagram ads paid for in US dollars and Russian rubles.

"We're constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people," Gleicher added.

Facebook said it is building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with security experts and other companies to prevent people from using its platform to manipulate others.

"We identified these accounts through our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region," Gleicher said.

"We also continue to work on tackling hate speech and misinformation, building better tools and technology, deepening our partnerships and programmes, and preparing for the 2020 general elections," he added.

--IANS

gb/arm

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