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Facebook shares open higher; Removes 800 political spam groups, pages

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Facebook shares opened higher Friday, as the social media network said it has shut down over 800 groups, pages and accounts that it found were promoting politically-based spam. In particular, it said it has cracked down in co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour, where people, groups and posts are hiding what or who they really are.

By around 1445 BST, Facebook shares were 1.04% higher at $154.94. The stock has been trading mainly lower In recent weeks, hurt in part, by a recent data breach on the platform.

Facebook political spam crackdown

The tech giant said in a blog post Thursday, that it had identified over 800 accounts, pages and groups who were operating inauthentically on its site and had shut them down. The accounts and users were based across the US, the Middle East, Russia and the UK.

Facebook added that while some of the spam was politically motivated and themed, there was also a lot of inauthentic activity that was motivated by money.

The post stated that while there was still a lot of spam that worked to encourage people to buy ‘fake products’ a new type of behaviour was on show, in a bid to artificially inflate interest in inauthentic pages.

“The people behind it create networks of Pages using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy and Oscar Rodriguez, Product Manager at Facebook in their post.

“They post clickbait posts on these Pages to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms,” they added.

Identifying inauthentic activity

Facebook also said, that while in many cases there were legitimate reasons for accounts, users and groups to work together and co-ordinate posts and shares, they were working hard to ensure they identified the inauthentic users, while still supporting the authentic ones.

“As we get better at uncovering this kind of abuse, the people behind it — whether economically or politically motivated — will change their tactics to evade detection,” Gleicher and Rodriguez wrote. “It’s why we continue to invest heavily, including in better technology, to prevent this kind of misuse.”

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