Facebook announced today that it has removed 1,126 Pages, groups and accounts ahead of India's general election. Most of the accounts, which were based in India and Pakistan, were flagged for "coordinated inauthentic behavior." In total, Facebook removed 702 Pages, groups and accounts linked with two networks in India. Another 103 Pages, groups and accounts (across Facebook and Instagram) were deleted in connection with a network in Pakistan, and 321 Facebook Pages and accounts in India were removed for violating the company's rules against spam.
This is the latest in Facebook's ongoing attempts to keep the platform from being manipulated around elections. Earlier this month, Facebook removed 137 accounts in the UK for stoking political tension. In January, the company removed more than 900 Pages in Iran and Indonesia for coordinated inauthentic behavior. And last year, it pulled Pages in advance of elections in Iran and Bangladesh. In the US, Facebook had banned accounts in advance of the midterm elections and suspended accounts for pushing false information in state elections.
In a statement, Facebook said it doesn't want its services "to be used to manipulate people." The company noted that the Pages and accounts were taken down based on their deceptive behavior, not the content they posted. It said it will continue to build new technology, hire more people and work with law enforcement and security experts in its fight against inauthentic behavior. But with more than 900 million people eligible to vote in India's upcoming election, this will be the world's largest exercise of democracy to date, and it could showcase just how widespread the problem of "coordinated inauthentic behavior" is.