Pages purged by Facebook were on blacklist promoted by Washington Post
By Andre Damon
13 October 2018
Media outlets removed by Facebook on Thursday, in a massive purge of 800 accounts and pages, had previously been targeted in a blacklist of oppositional sites promoted by the Washington Post in November 2016.
The organizations censored by Facebook include The Anti-Media, with 2.1 million followers, The Free Thought Project, with 3.1 million followers, and Counter Current News, with 500,000 followers. All three of these groups had been on the blacklist.
In November 2016, the Washington Post published a puff-piece on a shadowy and up to then largely unknown organization called PropOrNot, which had compiled a list of organizations it claimed were part of a “sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign.”
The Post said the report “identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans.”
The publication of the blacklist drew widespread media condemnation, including from journalists Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald, forcing the Post to publish a partial retraction. The newspaper declared that it “does not itself vouch for the validity of PropOrNot’s findings regarding any individual media outlet.”
While the individuals behind PropOrNot have not identified themselves, the Washington Post said the group was a “collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”
Facebook Purges Over 800 Accounts With Millions Of Followers; Prominent Conservatives Vanish
Facebook claims that “domestic actors” have been creating “fake pages and accounts to attract people with shocking political news,” reports Bloomberg.
“The people behind the activity also post the same clickbait posts in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites,” Facebook said in a Thursday blog post.
“And they often use their fake accounts to generate fake likes and shares. This artificially inflates engagement for their inauthentic pages and the posts they share, misleading people about their popularity and improving their ranking in news feed.”
Some pages Facebook removed had large followings of real and fake accounts. Nation in Distress, a conservative meme page, was followed by more than 3 million people, according to the Internet Archive, which stores historical versions of websites and other online content. –Bloomberg