Amid a heated presidential election in Brazil, Facebook has removed 68 pages and 43 fake accounts for violating its Community Standards by repeatedly posting spam, misrepresentation and clickbait content that led users to ad farms.
The removed accounts and pages were linked to Raposo Fernandes Associados (RFA), a local marketing group which, sources say, was promoting right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who has been compared to US President Donald Trump.
So far, similar behavior has not been detected on Instagram or WhatsApp, but extra security measures are taken as a precaution.
“While spam commonly involves the offer of fraudulent products or services, we have seen spammers increasingly using sensational political content — across the political spectrum — to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site,” Facebook says. “The RFA assets we removed were engaging in this type of elicit behavior.”
Spreading misinformation has become a common tactic to interfere with elections and influence public opinion. The social network is committed to taking further action “to prevent bad actors from interfering with Brazil’s elections on Facebook.”
On October 28, Brazilians cast their vote to choose between far-right representative Bolsonaro and left-winger Fernando Haddad. Both candidates have complained about politically motivated trolls and ad farms trying to compromise the voting process.
“We monitor potential threats and coordinate our response really fast,” said Monica Guise, Facebook’s public policy manager for Brazil, while WhatsApp’s Victoria Grand acknowledges “This is a critical moment for Brazil. We are very focused on making sure that we get it right and we do everything in our power to take a broad sense of our responsibility.”