Facebook removes hundreds of pages connected to Indian opposition party ahead of vote

Facebook on Monday removed hundreds of pages connected to India's opposition party ahead of the country's election.

The social media giant said in a statement that they had found "coordinated inauthentic behavior" designed to influence voters.

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Facebook said it removed 687 pages it claims are tied to the IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).

The fake accounts posted "local news and political issues, including topics like the upcoming elections, candidate views, the INC and criticism of political opponents including the Bharatiya Janata Party," the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“While the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found that it was connected to individuals associated with an INC IT Cell,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in the statement.

Gleicher added that Facebook was removing accounts "based on their behavior, not the content they posted."

The company said 15 more fake accounts were removed for similar behavior were linked to Indian IT firm Silver Touch.

The Indian elections begin April 11 and will end on May 19.

Facebook also removed 103 pages, groups and accounts that originated in Pakistan and were linked to employees of the Inter-Service Public Relations department of the Pakistani military.

Those pages also posted local news and frequently discussed the Indian government.

The social media network has faced increased scrutiny and criticism for its platform being used by groups to sow division and spread disinformation in elections.