Facebook closes 23 accounts in Italy

Facebook has set up a new "Election Operation Center" in Dublin to counter vote manipulation ahead of the EU elections. After being tipped off by the NGO Avaaz the company blocked 23 Italian user accounts with almost 2.5 million followers that were spreading false information about migrants online. Is this enough?

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Movement at last

The Internet company is taking real action at last, enthuses La Repubblica's web expert Andrea Iannuzzi:

“There's a lot riding on this for Facebook in particular because it knows it is on the radar after past failings (Russiagate, Brexit, the Cambridge Analytica affair). ... And even if in this case the key factor is not the algorithms but the Avaaz dossier - the online activists identified the pages, monitored and archived them before sending a detailed report to the Californian company - the signal that went out on the eve of the elections did not go unnoticed. It means that something is happening at last. What is at stake is democracy.”

Huffington Post Italia (IT) /

How followers are manipulated

Blocking individual pages will do little to eliminate the threat, warns Ruben Razzante, professor for Internet law in Huffington Post Italia:

“Facebook's rules are not only being violated by the hate-fuelled fake news being spread on these pages. There is also the phenomenon known as Follower Recycling. In other words, pages are created legitimately and often with honorable intentions but gradually change their tune over time to become vehicles for the spread of propaganda and fake news. This makes it possible to manipulate unsuspecting readers who in good faith continue to follow pages that have strayed a very long way from their original orientation. ”