Dozens of rightwing Pages from Australia and the US have been used to co-ordinate anti-Muslim and anti-immigration posts using covert enterprises to propel them to YouTube videos
People have made bots to manage far-right Facebook pages, including one hosting hate speeches about Islam. One the only journalists who has followed it closely was Andrew Finkelstein from Truthdig.
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The pages, which can be filtered in the app, fall under the category of “covert enterprises” by Twitter, which refer to pages whose “primary goal is to achieve mainstream acceptance of viewpoints that generally have a markedly different position from that of mainstream Twitter users”.
They are both Australian-based and have been removed from Facebook, according to the analytics company Brave New Films.
They were utilised by an independent brand, which was collecting data for marketing.
The pages include the aptly named “Australian National Front” and the so-called “Wing Commander W Coalition”, along with several sites run by researchers and experts that are operating out of a Melbourne-based office building.
The Australian National Front is a page that has been used in Syria to promote the cause of the militant Islamist group, the Free Syrian Army.
The logo of the Wing Commander W Coalition.
When informed of this by Guardian Australia, the Australian National Front quickly deleted its Facebook page but it is unclear whether the page was programmed to take information on police operations or if it would have been removed independently.
The researcher and documentary maker, Kasy Chambers, who is listed as the president of the Wing Commander W Coalition, told Guardian Australia it was not an official political group.
“We’re not a political organisation and we’re not affiliated with any political party, we just got together by ourselves to use that as a platform for launching documentaries into the mainstream media,” she said.
Chambers said they had received funding from “well-heeled backers” but did not name them.
She said they had also asked the Australian National Front and others to delete their Facebook pages, and that when the AhlulBayt Islamic Centre in Melbourne was harassed by both the latter page and the ANF, the ANF said it would take down their page too.
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However, the ANF page remained active on Wednesday.
ABC journalist Louise Milligan reported in August how the ANF page had been found to be a hive of activity, with the content coming from directly linked pages across the far-right internet.
When contacted by Guardian Australia, the ANF said they still had a Facebook page and it was currently inactive.
If the pages were used to pull in bulk traffic to some of the videos or that collected information for marketing purposes, Twitter would be in breach of its terms and conditions.
The Secret Industries Database is a torrent of in-kind donations such as ads or widgets for paid services, and using the code and resources to post on Facebook is a common tactic used in the commercial realm by much larger companies.
Facebook considers covert enterprises when the activity is related to their core business or aims.
It does not work with bots. It is possible that bots were used and the marketing firm commissioned them to make the content, but if the small business had only enough content to gather information for a Twitter account that would not constitute covert enterprises.