Renamed fake accounts spreading political bias on FB

Renamed fake accounts spreading political bias on FB
Highlights

Barely a week away from when the world's largest democracy goes to the polls, the fake news factories on Facebook and its WhatsApp have become active like never before as the social media giant scrambles for solutions which are few and far between.

Barely a week away from when the world's largest democracy goes to the polls, the fake news factories on Facebook and its WhatsApp have become active like never before as the social media giant scrambles for solutions which are few and far between.

The game on Facebook is different from other social media platforms as several pages, groups and accounts have been renamed to push the election agenda as the requirements from the political quarters soar.

According to social media experts, renaming the Facebook pages or groups to promote political campaigns and influence voters has become common and the Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven algorithms are not sufficient to handle such a huge volume in a country where Facebook has over 30 crore users and WhatsApp another 30 crore monthly.

"There are over 200 fake Facebook Groups and Pages with more than one lakh followers which are currently influencing the group members and followers with biased political content," leading social media expert Anoop Mishra said.

There are fake profile pages created by fans of journalists like Ravish Kumar ("I Support Ravish Kumar" with over 18 lakh followers) and Punya Prasun Bajpai ("Prasoon Vajpaaye Fans" with over 10 lakh followers) being used to push a political agenda.

There are several such examples where people who joined Facebook renamed their pages, groups and accounts later, only to use it for spreading their political agenda in the election season.

Despite Facebook's efforts, such misinformation is thriving and is only going to reach mammoth levels as the first phase of voting begins from April 11.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is another fake news factory where more than 87,000 groups are targeting millions with political messaging.

The failure to stem fake news is evident from the recent statements from CEO mark Zuckerberg. In an interview with RTE News on Tuesday, he said Facebook cannot yet guarantee that it can stop foreign actors that are trying to interfere in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May.

Facebook first came under the scanner of policymakers around the world after allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections surfaced.

In India, Facebook has hit on several fake Pages and accounts linked to Congress as well as the BJP but the task at hand is humongous.

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