Facebook’s latest account purge exposes Africa’s misinformation problem
Facebook last week purged a network of hundreds of pages, groups and Instagram accounts it labeled as producing “coordinated inauthentic behavior” toward Africa.
The activity originated in Israel and was largely targeted toward Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger, and Tunisia.
It was mostly political in nature and primarily paid for by Archemedes Group, a global political consulting firm, Facebook said.
This isn’t the first case of social media platforms used as vehicles for political manipulation in Africa. Cambridge Analytica, the controversial big-data actor employed in Brexit and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory, was active on the continent before and after both events.
On its recent Africa related deletions, Facebook said:
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.
The activity took place over 65 Facebook accounts, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events and four Instagram accounts. There were 2.8 million accounts that followed one or more of these pages and 5,500 accounts joined at least one of these Groups.
Facebook said more than $800,000 was spent on ads associated with these accounts starting in December 2012 and running as recently as April this year.