International

Facebook shuts down fake Bangladesh news sites ahead of vote

Facebook is shutting down a series of fake news sites spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before national elections, an official from the social media platform said Thursday

The sites nine Facebook pages designed to mimic legitimate news outlets, as well as six fake personal accounts spreading anti-opposition propaganda were created by Bangladeshis with government ties, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, told the AP in an exclusive interview.

The sites would be shut down “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior” by Thursday evening at the latest, he said by telephone from California.

A threat intelligence company that Facebook worked with determined that the people who created and managed the sites are “associated with the government,” he said, declining to provide further details.

Twitter later said it had suspended 15 accounts in Bangladesh, most with fewer than 50 followers, “for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation.”

“Based on our initial analysis, it appears that some of these accounts may have ties to state-sponsored actors,” it said on Twitter. It gave few other details and it was not immediately clear when the suspensions occurred.

On Facebook, the news sites were all designed to look like authentic news pages, including one operated by the BBC’s Bangla-language service and another by the popular Bangladeshi online newspaper bdnews24.com.

The sites would report false information about such things as turmoil in the camp of imprisoned opposition leader Khaled Zia.

“These are fake but look like independent news outlets,” said Gleicher, noting all were “pro-government and anti-opposition.”

Facebook began its investigation of the pages in November, and the Thursday shutdowns were “prompted by both external and internal evidence, including a tip from Graphika, a threat intelligence company that we work with,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 7:06:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/facebook-shuts-down-fake-bangladesh-news-sites-ahead-of-vote/article25791099.ece

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