MANILA (UPDATE) - Meta on Thursday said it has taken down a network of over 400 accounts, pages and groups that violate its community standards ahead of the Philippines' May 9 elections.
The action was part of its efforts to disrupt emerging threats, the social media giant behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp said.
Meta said the accounts were taken down for violating multiple policies such as coordinated harm, bullying, harassment, hate speech, misinformation and violence, Meta's Threat Disruption Director David Agranovich told reporters in a virtual briefing.
“We’ve removed a coordinated violating network that claim credit for bringing down website and defacing them,” Agranovich said.
“The network included over 400 accounts, pages and groups that work together to systematically violate multiple policies on our platform against coordinated harm, bullying, harassment, hate speech, misinformation and incitement to violence,” he added.
Meta said several trends using less sophisticated strategies or "spam-like" behaviors have also been observed in the run-up to the May 9 polls.
Threats that are of "lower sophistication but still problematic" include the following:
• Context switching - or the changing of Facebook focus to grow their audience. Meta said there were accounts that shift from non-political to political and vice-versa
"One Page that mainly shared non-political dance videos renamed itself to become “Bongbong Marcos news,” while another Page that started off as supporting a politician later changed its name to “Your Financial Answer” and began posting loan advice," Meta said in a blog post.
• Deceptive efforts - there are groups that pose as members of communities in the Philippines in attempts to monetize the election by selling merchandise or trying to drive people to other websites
• Inauthentic engagement - similar to spam where operators run fake engagements for multiple candidates in the same elections at the same time
In a separate statement, Meta said it ha also identified and removed "dangerous" organizations that violated its policies.
"This included a network of Facebook Pages, groups and accounts maintained by the New People’s Army (NPA), a banned terrorist organization, for violating our policies prohibiting groups that have a violent mission or are engaging in violence," it said.
Meta is also ramping up its efforts to ensure ads placed on its platforms are transparent, Meta's Regional Program Manager for Strategic Response in APAC Aidan Hoy said.
Hoy said advertisers need to confirm identity as well as their location when posting paid ads.
A "paid for by disclaimer" will also be shown in ads to give more transparency, he said.
In March, Meta's ad transparency tools were also expanded to cover other issues during the elections such as immigration, crime and the economy, among others, Hoy said.
But Meta clarified that all its policies are focused on behaviors and how people engage on the platform and not based on content or politicial inclinations.
The platform earlier said it was also working with the Commission on Elections for other information campaigns.
Meta also said it would activate an Elections Operations Center to rapidly detect and respond to any potential abuse of its services related to the May polls.