Facebook takes down 130 pages linked to first ‘fake news’ network uncovered in UK

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Facebook uncovered the network with investigating threatening posts made about Home Secretary Sajid Javid, the Telegraph understands

 

Facebook has removed more than 130 pages linked to a UK-based ‘fake news’ network, in the first incident of its kind.

The accounts, which had more than 180,000 followers across Facebook and Instagram, pumped out divisive pro and anti-immigrant posts as well as material about atheism, Islam and the former English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson.

The Telegraph understands that the discovery was made after Facebook started investigating threatening posts about the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

The incident is the first time Facebook has uncovered a co-ordinated UK-based misinformation network targeting a British audience.

Although the accounts were disparate in their politics and messaging, Facebook said the people behind them were coordinating to “spread divisive comments on both sides of the political debate in the UK”.

The pages had names such as Halal Speech, Anti Far Right Extremists and Atheists Research Centre.

They tended to build up an audience around innocent sounding interests before switching to more politically-motivated content.

A spokesman for Facebook said: “The individuals behind these accounts represented themselves as far-right and anti-far-right activists, frequently changed Page and Group names, and operated fake accounts to engage in hate speech and spread divisive comments on both sides of the political debate in the UK.

“Despite their misrepresentation of their identities, we found that these Pages, Groups and accounts were connected.

“They frequently posted about local and political news including topics like immigration, free speech, racism, LGBT issues, far-right politics, issues between India and Pakistan, and religious beliefs including Islam and Christianity.”

The company said it had notified police and the government over the network.

Senior Conservative MP, Damian Collins, described the findings as “probably only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to fake news in the UK.

He added: “When Facebook looks for fake accounts spreading disinformation and other harmful content it finds them. The trouble is that it doesn’t look often enough.”

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Source: Telegraph
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