The biggest social media giant “Facebook” announced on Thursday that they have banned an Israeli firm, which uses social media to disrupt elections Worldwide. Facebook has also banned many accounts involved in spreading misinformation.

Facebook has banned around 65 Israeli accounts and 161 pages. Most of these groups were related to the Archimedes group, which is a political firm trying to change reality through social media campaigns. They manipulated the political activities in various countries present in the region of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

The people of these networks used fake accounts and pages, to disseminate false information and advertising content as more popular than it actually was. These account users portrayed themselves as locals. Sometimes, they also claimed to be a news organization, who work to bust the politicians. They frequently posted political news. They also gave their views and criticized various political activities.

The individuals behind these movements tried their best to conceal their identity. However, Facebook tracked them down and found all of them connected to a company called Archimedes Group. This group targeted countries like Tunisia, Nigeria, Togo, and Angola.

According to Nathaniel Gleicher who is Facebook’s head of security, “Archimedes had spent around $800,000 to post fake ads to influence elections in various countries. Facebook has banned this group and it will never be able to come back again.”

Archimedes is an Israeli-based firm, which gets its revenue from disseminating fake news. Archimedes is not your average fake news Company. It uses the commercialization tactics of different governments, like Russia. These kinds of activities aren’t acceptable in democratic societies.

A Facebook scandal came in 2016, which revealed that Russia used Facebook to influence the 2016 elections and the Russians played a major role in the victory of President Donald Trump. Due to this scandal, Facebook has come under a lot of pressure recently to tackle this Israeli-based firm.

The influence of this group was so strong that around 3 million accounts, followed their fake pages, and around 5500 joined one of their groups. Facebook has made it clear that they are banning this group because of their involvement in misconduct and deceptive behavior.

African Campaign:

This group attacked mostly Sub Saharan Africa. The attack there was primarily political in nature. Archimedes influenced political activity in Ghana. They also influenced the 2019 Nigeria elections. An example of their campaign was “Make Nigeria Worse Again”. It was a troll campaign against the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. He was competing against the current President Muhammadu Buhari. Abubakar lost the elections due to the Archimedes’ campaign.

 Photo via Screengrab

Social Media fake news also became an issue in Kenya’s 2017 elections, in which the parliament passed a bill in 2018. Investigations of the elections showed that a social media group advised the presidential campaign of Uhuru Kenyatta. He won the elections.

Other Campaigns:

Other than Africa, the campaign also spread in various parts of Latin America and Southeast Asia. One of the biggest operations was done in Malaysia, which held general elections last year.

Facebook has given some examples of Archimedes’ manipulation. They mocked the Congolese Presidential Candidate Martin Fayulu for crying over “foul play” in the elections. This led to the victory of the other candidate. However, neutral analysts and watchdog groups have claimed that the elections were rigged.

Archimedes has a wide area of operations. So, it is difficult to pinpoint their agenda. However, their obvious agenda is to gain financial benefits, by spreading misinformation. The company isn’t ashamed of spreading misinformation and manipulating public opinion. In fact, it advertises public manipulation proudly on its website.

According to the Company’s website, its chief executive is Elinadav Heymann. According to the biography, Heymann has been an ex-intelligence officer of Israeli Air Force and an advisor to the Israeli parliament.

Whatever Archimedes’ background may be, it is disrupting the democratic processes around the world. Therefore, Facebook has done the right thing to ban this firm from its site, once and for all.