Facebook has moved to take down content from two US groups engaged in organized efforts to influence public opinion ahead of the Presidential election in November.
It claimed they were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – which is the term the social network uses to describe “groups of accounts and Pages seeking to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing while relying on fake accounts.”
The first involved the removal of five Pages, 20 Facebook accounts and six Groups associated with the QAnon network, an infamous group of far-right conspiracy theorists that emerged around three years ago.
These Trump supporters and ‘deep state’ believers have previously claimed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros and others are planning a coup, and that they are all members of an international child sex trafficking ring.
Most recently, they have reportedly been spreading disinformation about the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
The second group investigated by Facebook is linked to the VDARE website, known to post anti-immigration content and linked to a similar site known as The Unz Review.
In this case, Facebook was forced to remove 19 Pages, 15 Facebook accounts, and one Group, again, all originating in the US and focused domestically.
The news comes as new research revealed that UK consumers want more decisive action taken against online disinformation.
The Open Knowledge Foundation found that 55% of Brits believe the government should “impose compulsory action” on social media sites to prevent fake news spreading. A third (33%) said voluntary action by the likes of Facebook would be enough.
Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, argued that the best way to tackle disinformation “is to make information open, allowing journalists, scientists and researchers to provide facts to the public.”
“Tech giants have a responsibility to increase transparency and work closely with fact checkers, but voluntary action is never going to be enough by itself,” she added.