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Facebook ban serves as stern warning for marketing firms

14 Jan 19

Facebook has banned a digital marketing group in the Philippines from its platform after the agency allegedly violated spam and misrepresentation policies – something that should come as a warning for all marketing agencies who use Facebook.

Twinmark Media Enterprises and its subsidiaries were banned from Facebook for repeatedly violating ‘misrepresentation and spam' policies, writes Facebook cybersecurity policy head Nathaniel Gleicher.

These violations included “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”.

Facebook was alerted to Twinmark’s actions after it found out that Twinmark was selling administrator rights to Facebook Pages that it had created. It sold the rights to increase distribution and generate profit, which violates Facebook’s spam policy.

A deeper investigation found a network of pages that were, according to Gleicher, “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour, the use of fake accounts, leading people to ad farms and selling access to Facebook Pages.”

In some cases, Twinmark changed a Page name and changed the subject matter after it had built up a large following. This, Facebook says, was in violation of Page policies because it misled followers.

As part of the ban, Facebook removed 220 Facebook Pages; 73 Facebook accounts; and 29 Instagram accounts.

At least 43 million accounts followed at least one of the offending Facebook Pages. The most popular page, Filipino Channel Online, had 10.4 million followers.

Other popular pages included Gorgeous Me (5.7 million followers); Unhappy (4.9 million followers); Text Message (4.4 million followers); and TNP Media (4.3 million followers).

“We do not want our services to be used for this type of behaviour, nor do we want the group to be able to re-establish a presence on Facebook,” says Gleicher.

He adds that Facebook is continuously working to uncover abuses such as these.

“We know that the people behind it — whether economically or politically motivated — will continue to evolve their tactics. Today’s announcement is just one of the many steps we have taken to prevent bad actors from abusing our platform. We will continue to invest heavily in safety and security in order to ensure that people can continue to trust the connections they make on Facebook.”

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