Social media giant Facebook said today that it has removed 687 pages and accounts linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Congress party as it cracks down on fake accounts and spam ahead of elections.

These accounts, it said, were part of a coordinated networks and were removed not based on content or fake news but for “inauthentic behaviour” and for pushing spam.

However, no immediate comments could be obtained from the Congress

Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher told reporters that Facebook has removed 687 Facebook Pages and accounts – the majority of which had already been detected and suspended by its automated systems – that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in India and were linked to individuals associated with an IT Cell of the Indian National Congress (INC).

“When we remove one of these networks, , that they are using network of fake accountsthe reason we remove them is because of their coordinated inauthentic behaviour to conceal their identity….to mislead who’s behind them. That’s the basic reason for removal,” he said.

He asserted that the removal was not based on the content that was shared by these pages and groups. “We are constantly working to detect and stop coordinated inauthentic behaviour because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted,” Mr Gleicher added.

Facebook, which has been facing flak globally for instances of user data breach, has been ramping up efforts to ensure that its platforms (that includes WhatsApp and Instagram) aren’t misused to spread misinformation, especially ahead of polls in India.

It has recently started providing details of political ads on its platform in a bid to enhance transparency. It is also strengthening its team of fact checkers and deploying technology tools to flag fake news.

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