Social networking site Facebook is displayed on an electronic device at a cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, 11 January 2019. Vietnam has accused Facebook of breaking a cybersecurity law by allowing users to post anti-government comments, according to state media. EPA

MANILA: Facebook says it has banned a Philippine digital marketing group which runs hundreds of pages across the social network with 43 million followers, accusing it of “inauthentic behaviour” and using fake accounts.

Facebook has stepped up efforts to root out fake accounts after being criticised for failing to tackle hate speech and misinformation on its platforms. Filipinos are among the world’s heaviest users of social media, and the country has been a key battleground for fake news.

The online giant said that on Thursday it removed 220 Facebook pages, 73 Facebook accounts and 29 Instagram accounts run by Twinmark Media Enterprises, whose pages were followed by about 43 million accounts.

“Our decision to remove this organisation, and the pages and accounts it controls, is based on the behaviour of these actors who repeatedly violated our misrepresentation and spam policies, rather than on the type of content they were posting,” it added.

It accused Twinmark of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour, the use of fake accounts, leading people to ad farms, and selling access to Facebook pages to artificially increase distribution and generate profit.”

A Twinmark employee told AFP by telephone Friday the Manila-based firm’s officials were not available for comment.

The average Filipino spends nearly four hours per day on social media – the most in the world – according to Britain-based media consultancy We Are Social.

German database firm Statista estimates there were 73 million Facebook users in the Philippines as of October 2018, the sixth-largest country group.

In October last year Facebook said it had removed a network of 95 pages and 39 accounts in the Philippines, including one with 4.8 million followers, for violating the social media outfit’s spam and authenticity policies. --AFP

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