The Atlantic

Facebook’s Big Disinformation Bust Is Cold Comfort

The company found, and removed, possible election interference on its platforms. But the government, and the world, is too reliant on the company to protect democracy.
Source: Mandel Ngan / Getty

Facebook announced today that it has removed pages, events, and accounts involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its social-media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. The posts and accounts in question appeared to have been created to sow discord in advance of a second “Unite the Right” rally in Washington D.C., meant to memorialize last year’s deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville. The material Facebook found and removed included false counter-protest events, job ads for protest coordinators, and content referencing diversity and the #AbolishICE movement, among others.

This behavior is inauthentic and the actors bad, in Facebook’s analysis, not because the content is objectionable on its face, but because it does not represent earnest speech. Instead, the posts appear to have been created to give those who might encounter their messages and oppose them a sense of injustice or distress, in order to precipitate discord. This type of propaganda has been common on and in the past, including during the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election.

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