Facebook has banned Archimedes Group, an Israeli company, for using fake accounts and pages to post political news about Nigeria, “because it does not want its services to be used to manipulate people.”
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, announced this in a post, saying that the accounts and pages were identified through “internal investigations”.
He accused the firm of coordinated inauthentic behaviour, disclosing that so far, Facebook has removed 265 fake accounts.
He said, “Today we removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, Facebook Pages, Groups and events involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Gleicher said.
“This activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia along with some activity in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
“The people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement. They also represented themselves as locals, including local news organizations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians. The Page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents.
“Although the individuals behind this network attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of this activity was linked to an Israeli commercial entity, Archimedes Group. It has repeatedly violated our misrepresentation and other policies, including by engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This organization and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter.”
Archimedes Group is a political consulting and lobbying firm that boasts of its ability of wining elections worldwide.
Facebook had in February partnered with Dubawa, a fact-checking website in Nigeria, to help assess the accuracy of news and reduce the spread of misinformation.