Menlo Park, Ca – Facebook announced on Thursday that 559 pages had been deleted for flooding their platform with politically-oriented spam, according to Washington Post.
Among the pages taken down were notorious anti-police pages for Cop Block, The Free Thought Project, and Police the Police, which had roughly seven million followers between them.
Facebook said that the primary reasoning behind the pages’ removal was because of coordinated spam and fake “likes” to game Facebook’s algorithm and increase their reach.
“Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites,” Facebook said in their announcement. “Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”
“Of course, there are legitimate reasons that accounts and Pages coordinate with each other — it’s the bedrock of fundraising campaigns and grassroots organizations. But the difference is that these groups are upfront about who they are, and what they’re up to,” Facebook said.
Facebook also said that “the ‘news’ stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate.”
This suggests that Facebook is making editorial decisions about what is, and what isn’t, a legitimate opinion, although it’s not clear if that factored into their decision to delete the pages.
It appears that most (if not all) of the affected pages are connected to people involved in fake news, conspiracy theories, and content made to intentionally mislead people.
Cop Block started to decline after founder Adam Mueller, also known as Ademo Freeman, was arrested in February of 2017 for drug trafficking.
Freeman then sold the group’s Facebook page, with over one and a half million followers, to a media company that works to make money off of anti-police fake news.
He then sold the Cop Block website at auction to somebody who appears to have all but abandoned it after realizing that they paid a drug trafficker five figures for a near-worthless website.
A screenshot taken by The Free Thought Project and Police The Police founder Jason Bassler appeared to show that he became involved with the Cop Block Facebook page at some point.
RT America (Formerly Russia Today) journalist Rachel Blevins’ page also appeared to have been under the control of Bassler. Her page was also banned.
Blevins claims that she is the only one who posts on her account, despite Bassler’s post.
Do you think that Facebook is making an editorial decision about what content is on their platform? Or do you think that these accounts were banned for maliciously violating the rules? We’d like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.