Facebook has deleted the account network associated with the German anti-COVID restriction campaign because it announced a new crackdown on the coordinated activities of real users, which caused harm on and off its platform.
Reuters exclusively reported on Thursday that Facebook’s security team is expanding its strategy of using fake accounts to cancel operations that affect operations, in order to conduct more large-scale closures of harming real user account coordination groups through large-scale reports or joint actions.
Facebook’s security policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday that, in the context of related changes, Facebook has been trying to use its strategy to combat “coordinated social harm” for months.
He said these activities usually involve a well-organized network of real users who systematically violate its policies and cause harm, including staying away from Facebook, but do not violate the company’s rules on using fake accounts or affecting operations against dangerous organizations.
These changes are of great significance to how the world’s largest social media network handles organized political and social movements on its website. In a recent report on influence operations, the company stated that a key trend it sees is the ambiguity between real public debate and manipulation of domestic and foreign activities.
How platforms should take coercive measures against offline activities is often vaguely described in their rules and is also an area of contention related to violent incidents such as the U.S. Capitol riots.
Querdenken is a movement of protesters who oppose Germany’s coronavirus restrictions. Facebook stated that networks operated by individuals associated with Querdenken use real and duplicate accounts to post and amplify harmful health misinformation, hate speech, and incitement to violence in multiple Internet services. Facebook also stated that the campaign is related to physical violence off the platform and COVID-related social harm.
The Querdenken movement did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Facebook has been under scrutiny for handling anti-vaccine and COVIDw-19 misinformation that surged online during the pandemic, and the company stated that it has not banned all Querdenken content on its platform.
It stated that it had blocked its domain name from being shared and deleted less than 150 Facebook and Instagram accounts, groups and homepages.
© Thomson Reuters 2021