Facebook removes ‘influential news’ pages linked to Thai army
Facebook has confirmed the deletion of 185 accounts managed by the Thai military and allegedly involved in the influence of information. The social media giant claims the accounts were removed for engaging in what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” A total of 77 accounts, 72 pages and 18 groups were deleted from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. This is the first time that Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.
The accounts were associated with the Thai military and targeted people in the southern provinces, Facebook said in its regular report of coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country was the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.
Facebook says deleted accounts were the most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both overtly military pages and pages that hid their military ties . Some of the fake profiles claimed to be people from the southern provinces.
The report mentioned a message from the now-deleted account titled “understand the transaction” in Thai. The page displayed the Amnesty International Thailand logo and wrote: “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Anyway is not great news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we do not see anything from the NGO.
On another now-deleted account, titled “The Truth About My Pattani House” in Thai, an article read, “Muslim leader declares southern border a zone of peace. Southern separatists have started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under the control of different believers so that people come to fight for their religion. It has been stated that the action clearly violates the Islamic faith.
Contacted by Reuters, the military made no comment on the deletion of Facebook accounts, a spokesperson saying the organization does not comment outside of official press conferences.
Facebook’s cybersecurity policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher has confirmed the platform’s reasons for the decision.
“This is the first time that we attribute any of our withdrawals to links with the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the command of internal security operations. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are linked together as part of this operation. “
He adds that the accounts spent around US $ 350 advertising on Facebook and Instagram. One or more pages had approximately 700,000 subscribers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were deleted because of their deceptive behavior and not because of the content posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism from insurgent groups in the south.
This is not the first time that accounts linked to the Thai military have been deleted by a social media platform. In October, Twitter deleted 926 accounts he says he had ties to the military and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai military has denied any involvement in the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended the publication of an account pro-monarchy content which turned out to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.
To read the coordinated report on inauthentic behavior from February 2021, click HERE.
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