Facebook takes down far-right groups days before Spanish election


Facebook has taken down several networks that were spreading far-right content to nearly 1.7 million people in Spain, days before national electionsthat are expected to see a surge in support for the far-right Vox party. The networks were uncovered in an investigation by the campaign group Avaaz, and taken down only after it presented Facebook with its findings.

The discovery of a large network, spreading politically sensitive content unmonitored days before a key European election, is likely to add to concerns about social media firms’ willingness and ability to control hate speech and criminal activity on their sites. On Wednesday British MPs condemned Facebook, Google and Twitter for their refusal to report users to the police when they remove criminal posts, except in rare cases when there is an immediate threat to life or limb.

Avaaz found that the networks in Spain were spreading fake news, including a doctored photo of a political opponent giving a Hitler salute, and misogynist, Islamophobic and homophobic messages. They were also coordinating the publication of identical posts apparently designed to look like spontaneous messages. However, unlike its decision earlier this month to ban British far-right groupsin a crackdown on hate organisations, Facebook said it had not taken down the Spanish pages because of their content, or for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” – the network’s sanitised term for manufacturing and spreading fake news.(Theguardian)…[+]