Fake news network uncovered in the UK

Around 130 accounts deemed to be part of a network of misinformation have been removed from Facebook.

The social network say that this is the first example of the removal of content created by a group in the UK which directs “fake news” at the British public.

The group, put together pages in support of far-right and anti-fascist movements, has been reported to law enforcement agencies in the UK as well as the British government.

The content obtained its first followers by creating apparently innocuous Facebook pages and support groups, which were gradually adjusted to a stance that became more politically motivated, and increasingly extreme in its views.

The pages began to broadcast hate speech, spreading “divisive comments on both sides of the political debate in the UK,” Facebook said.

“They frequently posted about local and political news including topics like immigration, free speech, racism, LGBT issues, far-right politics, issues between India and Pakistan, and religious beliefs including Islam and Christianity.

“We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” they added.

The removal of the pages was the “tip of the iceberg,” in the view of MP Damian Collins who heads up a team investigating the proliferation of fake news online.

One of the pages had around 175,000 followers and 35 profiles on Facebook-owned Instagram, the social network said.

Those behind the Facebook pages put around $1,500 (£1,140) into promoting their content in an advertising campaign which began in December 2013, while the last advert published on the site came in October of last year.

Facebook has also taken down 31 pages relating to accounts embroiled in “inauthentic behaviour”, which are believed to originate in Romania.

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