Facebook says it is removing 559 pages and 251 accounts that “have consistently broken … rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
The company explained Thursday that this batch of accounts and pages was focused on manipulating the platform for financial gain by pumping out misleading political clickbait and spam rather than trying to actually influence U.S. politics.
“They post clickbait posts on these Pages to drive people to websites that are entirely separate from Facebook and seem legitimate, but are actually ad farms,” Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said.
“The people behind the activity also post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites.”
Gleicher said this type of behavior, which started with obvious scams like promotions for fake products, is growing increasingly sophisticated.
“Topics like natural disasters or celebrity gossip have been popular ways to generate clickbait. But today, these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site,” he wrote.
Gleicher didn’t detail the accounts Facebook removed. The New York Times, however, pointed out a page with a large following called, Right Wing News, as one of the removed pages.
The page frequently spread sensational and misleading headlines to its 3.1 million followers. Unlike pages that have been banned in the past, it was founded by an American, blogger John Hawkins, not Russia or Iran.
Facebook has been working to curb misinformation more generally. This summer, the company made two separate announcements about large groups of accounts it recognized to be a part of coordinated misinformation efforts carried out by foreign governments.
Facebook has not yet attributed responsibility to one batch of accounts. It said that two other sets were created by groups linked to the Russian and Iranian governments.