Black market for Facebook ad accounts poses challenge to Indian elections

India is holding a general election for the House of Representatives, with nearly 1 billion voters participating, from April 19, 2024, with voting to be held in seven rounds until June 1 of the same year. The Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a non-profit organization that examines the transparency of big tech, has pointed out that Facebook has a black market for fake and stolen accounts that can place political ads in India, and that this could actually affect the election in India.

TTP - Facebook Black Market for Ad Accounts Looms Over India Election

Meta, Facebook's parent company, prohibits the buying, selling, and exchanging of accounts. However, according to TTP, there is a black market where everything related to social media is traded, including Facebook and Instagram accounts, WhatsApp numbers, and US Social Security numbers. Several users who are actually selling Facebook accounts are claiming that they can 'serve ads related to politics and election issues for India.'

For example, in June 2023, a user posted in a Facebook group, 'Indian verified accounts available,' and attached screenshots of 'accounts approved for ads on social issues, elections and politics.'

Many of the account resellers discovered by TTP live in Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, but it is unclear whether they are real people.

The election to decide the president of the United States will be held in November 2024. During the 2016 presidential election, a major scandal was uncovered, in which a consulting firm used personal information held by Facebook, causing a major impact on the election.

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg admits he made a mistake after 50 million users' data was misused - GIGAZINE

Since the Cambridge Analytica incident, Facebook has strengthened its crackdown on user data handling and account management, claiming that it is making significant investments to protect the fairness of online elections, and of course Meta prohibits the sale of accounts. In 2023, Meta announced that it had removed a group of Chinese government-led impersonation spam accounts it called 'Spamouflage Dragon.'

The Chinese government's largest disinformation campaign, 'Spamouflage Dragon,' which runs on more than 50 platforms including Google, promotes Chinese policies and criticizes dissidents - GIGAZINE

However, in reality, Meta's crackdown has not kept up at all, and it is a cat-and-mouse game with malicious users. According to TTP, one user posted a message in January 2024 asking, 'Do you need a verified Facebook account for American politics?' and received favorable replies from users in other countries.

'Despite its claims to protect the integrity of elections, Meta appears to have a major blind spot in the underground market for ad-supported accounts on its platform,' the TTP said, warning that fake or stolen accounts could make it easier for bad actors to spread false and inflammatory messages in election-hosting countries, including India.

in Web Service, Posted by log1i_yk