Facebook has announced that it has banned Twinmark Media Enterprises – the company behind the viral news website Trending News Portal – from its platform. The social media giant also removed 220 Facebook pages, 73 Facebook accounts, and 29 Instagram accounts managed by Twinmark Media.
Facebook claimed that Twinmark Media has repeatedly violated its spam and misrepresentation policies. The violations include: the use of fake accounts, coordinated inauthentic behavior, leading users to ad farms, and selling access to pages to artificially increase distribution and earn profits.
These are the Facebook pages that were removed as part of the purge:
- Filipino Channel Online (10.4 million followers)
- Gorgeous Me (5.7 million followers)
- Unhappy (4.9 million followers)
- Text Message (4.4 million followers)
- TNP Media (4.3 million followers)
All in all, there were about 43 million Facebook accounts that followed at least one of the 220 deleted pages.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said that the social media network’s decision to ban Twinmark Media is “based on the behavior of these actors who repeatedly violated our misrepresentation and spam policies, rather than on the type of content they were posting.” This means that accusations of being purveyors of “fake news” had nothing to do with the organization’s removal from Facebook.
The investigation of Twinmark Media’s activities started when Facebook learned that the company was selling admin rights to its Facebook pages. Facebook’s cybersecurity team then took a deeper look at the users involved and the pages and accounts associated with them, ultimately discovering a massive network of pages and accounts engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior, the use of fake accounts, leading people to ad farms, and selling admin access to pages.
Gleicher said that Facebook is continuously working to stop abuse of its platform, and that the people behind this abuse will continue to “evolve their tactics.” He reiterated that Twinmark Media will not be allowed to reestablish its presence in Facebook.
“This is one of the most significant takedowns in the world. We’re not just removing the violating behavior, we are removing the entire organization,” Gleicher added.
One example of Twinmark Media’s violations is changing the names of its pages after building up a large following, which is a violation of Facebook’s page policies as it misleads the page’s followers.
What is Twinmark Media Enterprises?
Twinmark Media Enterprises, Inc. (TMMI) is the company behind the popular viral news website Trending News Portal. Founded in 2014, the company owns and manages several websites in “different market niches catering to the interests of its many followers and readers.”
TMMI claims that its websites have over 1 billion engagements per month. Some of the websites and brands owned by TMMI include Trending News Portal (TNP), HealthyDigest, Kikay Department, TechieTalk, and Wonderer.
Twinmark Media was established by three brothers: Fernando, Ken and Mark Anthony Hicban. Around 2016, the company shifted its focus to politics to take advantage of the popularity of President Rodrigo Duterte. As a result, the company’s Facebook engagement increased by as much as 5 times in just a year.
At its peak, the company employed around 50 to 60 people.