Facebook on Tuesday announced its banning of eight pages, 17 profiles, and seven Instagram accounts that engaged in what it described as online political activity that was both “inauthentic” and ultimately an “abuse” of its platform. While the activity was not attributed to anybody specific, the implication was clear, and at several points, the company made comparisons to a Russian organization U.S. authorities accused of trying to influence U.S. voters during the 2016 election. But at least one of the pages deleted this week was run by a group of real Americans who say they’ve been unfairly targeted by Facebook, implicated in a non-existent plot to dupe activists into attending a real protest scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, less than two weeks from today. Facebook, for its part, says the page advertising the event was founded by a group whose administrators include some who have been flagged as a potential threats—entities, it says, who are likely trying to influence domestic politics from abroad, as Russian trolls had done two years ago. The real activists, however, say that Facebook, in this case, overshot its mark, overzealous perhaps in its attempt to placate a hostile Congress, while holding fast amid a week of ugly financial misfortune. Disparate narratives notwithstanding, it is clear that Facebook is operating in unfamiliar territory and without a net as Americans inch closer to yet another election already mired by fears of foreign interference. Facebook, too, can’t help but fear another season of contentious congressional hearings,… [Read full story]
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