PATNA: After Facebook Inc removed 687 pages and accounts of Congress party, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday called it a historical development.
"Today a very historical development has taken place. Owners of those accounts were not known. It was fake. It was used to spread falsehood against the Narendra Modi government. When inquiry was done, it was found that those individuals were linked to Congress IT cell," said Prasad.
He added, "Facebook has also removed 180 pages of ISI which were spreading misinformation with fake news in Pakistan. What is happening in India and in Pakistan, the investigation showed that. Congress is desperate, therefore, resorting to these types of dubious means to garner support. However, people are confident after seeing the performance of the Narendra Modi government."
Earlier in the day, Facebook Inc announced that it is removing 687 pages and accounts linked to the Congress party for "coordinated inauthentic behaviour". This comes barely two weeks before the polling begins for the Lok Sabha elections.
Besides this, the social media giant has also deleted Facebook and Instagram pages and accounts that originated in Pakistan.
"Today we removed 103 Pages, Groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram as part of a network that originated in Pakistan. The individuals behind this activity used fake accounts to operate military fan Pages; general Pakistani interest Pages; Kashmir community Pages; and hobby and news Pages," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook said in a statement.
BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya told ANI, "It is quite unprecedented that Facebook has actually named the Indian National Congress for running a network of fake pages that were peddling lies perhaps a lot of misinformation which could cause law and order problem in the country. All this so that they could discredit the government, the Prime Minister, and make some political capital out of it. Last few days, we have seen discourse around fake news and now we know who is the purveyor of fake news."
"All these fake pages can be attributed to Congress party and its president Rahul Gandhi. In fact, these fake pages were run by the members of Congress IT cell. They must own up. The engagement they had with Cambridge Analytica has come to the fore even more," he added.
Malviya further said, "Facebook also talks about the handles which were operated by the Pakistani establishment linked to their publicity wing ISPR which are essential running pages. They work overtime to discredit Indian Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
"Hence, there is a commonality between Congress party and what the Pakistani establishment is doing. They both are running down India, Indian Government and Indian Prime Minister. Their aim is to destabilise the state and cause trouble and that is a matter of concern," Malviya told ANI.
However, the Congress party denied the allegations. "We don't react to the news reports which may just be coming in, whether there are any Facebook pages which are linked to us. We will have to check and get back to you. We will have to check the veracity of the report. I don't think any news organisation can claim that what they print is gospel, we have the right to check what has been published," the party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.