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Facebook purges content linked to Sudan’s RSF

October 14 - 2021 SUDAN
Graphic: RD
Graphic: RD

Global social media platform Facebook says it has removed hundreds of pages, accounts, and groups, as well as Instagram accounts, that targeted domestic audiences in Sudan, and have been linked to Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It has pulled similar content and accounts based in Iran.

In its Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour (CIB) Report for September 2021, the platform asserts: “We found this activity as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region and linked it to the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group operated by the Sudanese government”.

The report says that 116 Pages, 666 Facebook accounts, 69 Groups and 92 accounts on Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) have been removed.

Facebook says: “In our previous threat reporting, we called out the rise of domestic influence operations, which are particularly concerning when they combine deceptive techniques with the real-world power of a state. Both networks we removed in September continued this trend and were in some way linked to the military organisations… in their respective countries [Sudan and Iran]. Each targeted domestic populations to praise the military and criticize opposing factions.”

Facebook remarks: “The tactics both of these operations used to promote their campaigns were not particularly novel or sophisticated. In each case, we observed them posing as local news entities to lend credibility to their efforts.

“We know that influence operations will keep evolving in response to our enforcement, and new deceptive behaviours will emerge. We will continue to refine our enforcement and share our findings publicly. We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before – it’s an ongoing effort. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies,” the report concludes.

Facebook has been under increased scrutiny over the past weeks after former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony to US senators on October 5 that Facebook puts “astronomical profits before people”, harms children, and is destabilising democracies. Haugen suggested the platform’s influence on violence and instability in Myanmar and Ethiopia in recent years, and warned that Facebook was “literally fanning ethnic violence” in places such as Ethiopia because it was not policing its service adequately outside the USA.

Read Facebook’s complete September 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour Report here


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