In a piece released by Facebook on 17th January, the social media giant announced that they had removed pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook made clear that it was the behaviour of the accounts and not the content that they posted that was the cause of the removal. Specifically, Facebook have made clear that it’s the practice of misleading users that caused the accounts to be shut down.
Facebook has made clear that it will not tolerate accounts that aren’t an authentic identity. Curbing misrepresentation is a major target for Facebook in 2019. In the post, Facebook has stated that the people behind the fake accounts are often strategic and well-funded, with very clear objectives.
The results of the crackdown were that Facebook announced on 17th January that they removed 364 Facebook pages and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior. These pages, according to Facebook, were part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries. Pages and page administrators were shown to be independent news pages or general interest pages. Through investigating these accounts, Facebook discovered that they were linked to employees of Sputnik, an agency based in Moscow. This agency was clearly falsely representing itself, as it would post frequently about controversial topics.
These reviews utilized significant ad spend in the times that they were operational. Facebook reports that $135,000 was spent on Facebook ads by these inauthentic profiles between 2013 and 2019. Furthermore, Facebook reported that events were organized by the pages. This 6-year stretch of advertising and organic content resulted in a total of 790,000 following one or more of the pages that spread inauthentic content.
Impact on Marketing
This crackdown on inauthentic content shows that Facebook is committed to only the truth. The amount of time and money spent on the platform by these inauthentic pages over the years shows that Facebook was not as focused on this type of content in the past as it is now.