Why Facebook removed over 800 political accounts
Facebook has been on a purging spree, killing off spam accounts that just so happen to be politically oriented. If you’re wondering what all of this means, then you’ve probably been in some sort of hibernation. So, for those of you who’ve been sleeping under a rock; first of all, good morning! Second of all, the United States midterm elections are just a few weeks away, and regardless of where you live, the midterms are definitely worth staying up to date on. Luckily for us, social media makes it pretty easy to stay politically active.
Unfortunately, advertisers and spammers are well aware of how much we rely on sites like Facebook for our news, and good lord, is it a mess out there. If you’re not aware of the sketchy business Facebook has been up to lately, you should really read up on it. Preferably with your finger hovering over the “delete account” button.
In the wake of the 2016 election crisis, Facebook has been “cracking down” on political spam accounts in the weeks leading up to November’s midterm. On Thursday, the company announced that it has purged over 800 accounts and pages for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
If that sounds vague, that’s because it is.
According to Facebook, the suspended pages were working together to make their accounts seem more popular than they actually are. That means that 800 political news accounts and pages have been purged from the site for using clickbait headlines and spam to drive traffic to their websites. Facebook claimed that it did not look at the content of the pages, but merely their activity.
But even though Facebook claims to have been impartial in its decision making, it is yet to make public the names of all the accounts and pages its removed. A couple have been revealed, like the conservative “Nation in Distress” and the liberal “Reverb Press,” but the rest still remain a mystery. And already, several owners of purged pages have publicly protested Facebook’s actions.
Christ Metcalf, the publisher for the liberal account “Reasonable People Unite,” lost his audience of over 2 million when his page was removed from Facebook. “I am a legitimate political activist,” he said. “I don’t have a clickbait blog. I don’t have a fake news website. And I haven’t been doing anything that all the other pages in this space aren’t doing.”
In this scenario, it’s Metcalf’s word against Facebook’s, but it does raise the question of how much power a social media should have over the content its users share. Don’t get me wrong – I really, really don’t want a repeat of the 2016 election. But this does seem a little out of character, especially since Mark Zuckerberg had previously stated that Facebook would be demoting misinformation and spam pages, not immediately purging them from the site. Previously, removal has only been reserved for fake accounts with connection to propaganda networks.
Despite all this, Facebook still claims that it has no political agenda, and that this purge was solely of accounts that used this “inauthentic coordinated behavior.” Again, whatever that means.