Facebook has removed dozens of accounts and pages that were intended to cause unrest in West Papua, reports the social medium Thursday. According to the company, these are non-authentic accounts on both Facebook and Instagram.
The 69 accounts and 42 pages on Facebook were followed by 410,000 people; the 34 Instagram accounts had 120,000 followers. A part of the pages placed content that supported the independence movement, while another part criticized this.
Facebook deleted the accounts after an investigation into the coordinated behavior of fake accounts. The area experienced a troubled period with revolts and riots following "racist" action by the Indonesian police. Indonesia governs the western provinces of Papua and West Papua of the island of New Guinea.
In part of Papua and West Papua, the internet was also blocked by the Indonesian authorities. This lasted over two weeks and happened because of "hoaxes, lies, hate speech, and provocations," the authorities on the Indonesian part of the island said.
Also UAE, Nigeria and Egypt offline accounts
In addition to the Indonesian accounts, Facebook has deleted accounts, pages, groups and Instagram accounts from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nigeria and Egypt. These accounts were also used for coordinated, non-authentic behavior.
The accounts in the UAE, Nigeria and Egypt were used to promote the UAE and to provide criticism of Qatar, Turkey, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. The deletion of these accounts was part of a follow-up investigation into the region; accounts were also deleted in August.
Other Egyptian accounts were also used to spread coordinated non-authentic information. For example, the accounts posted messages in support of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and spread criticism of Qatar, Iran, Turkey and separatist movements in southern Yemen.
Facebook has deleted accounts multiple times in recent months. For example, accounts of Italian fascist groups were closed due to hate speech. The company also removed fake pages about the US police and blocked more than two hundred racist organizations.