Facebook on Monday said it removed 103 Pages, Groups and accounts on both its platform and Instagram for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour against India as part of a military-backed network that originated in Pakistan.
The individuals used fake accounts to operate military fan Pages, general Pakistani interest Pages, Kashmir community Pages and hobby and news Pages.
“They also frequently posted about local and political news including topics like the Indian government, political leaders and military,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, told the media during a telephonic conversation.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that it was linked to employees of the ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) of the Pakistani military,” he added.
In total, there were 24 Pages, 57 Facebook accounts, seven Groups and 15 Instagram accounts.
Nearly, 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 4,700 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and around 1,050 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
“Around $1,100 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in US dollars and Pakistani rupees. The first ad ran in May 2015 and the most recent ad ran in December 2018,” informed Facebook.
The accounts posted on Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and the Indian Air Force, among other references.
In a faux pas, after mentioning Kashmir separately along with India and a few other countries in a blog post last month, Facebook apologized for the “mistake” and later deleted the reference to Kashmir.