Facebook said Thursday it pulled down more than 800 pages and accounts that posted sensational political content for violating its rules against spam and “inauthentic behaviour” ahead of the US midterm elections.
The company made the announcement in a blog post which said that “increasingly” spam networks have started using “sensational political content — regardless of its political slant — to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites.”
The social network, which has been under fire for facilitating foreign interference in U.S. politics, has found that domestic actors have also been creating fake pages and accounts to attract people with shocking political news, the way they have in the past with celebrity news or health news. Their motivation is mostly financial, the company said.
“The bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics. And the people behind it are adapting their behaviour as our enforcement improves,” Facebook head of cyber-security policy Nathaniel Gleicher and product manager Oscar Rodriguez wrote in a blog post.
The tech firm, which has tried to stay away from becoming the “arbiter of truth,” noted it looked at the activity of the accounts instead of their content to decide whether to pull them down.
Facebook’s rules don’t stop people from saying things that are false and incendiary. But the company tries to take down accounts and pages that are not from real people.
Facebook, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, has been under pressure by lawmakers to protect the integrity of elections.