Facebook said it was removing the publishers and accounts not because of the type of content they posted, but because of the behaviors they engaged in, including spamming Facebook groups with identical pieces of content and using fake profiles.
"Today, we're removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior," the company said in a blog post. "People will only share on Facebook if they feel safe and trust the connections they make here."
But the move to target American politically oriented sites, just weeks before the congressional midterm elections, is sure to be a flashpoint for political groups and their allies, which are already attacking the tech giant for political bias and for arbitrary censorship of political content.
Ever since Russian operatives used Facebook to target American voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook has been under immense pressure to crack down on content that could disrupt the democratic process in the United States. But the challenge of policing domestic content is even thornier than going after foreign interference because it is harder to define what constitutes legitimate political expression. By removing the groups entirely, Facebook is effectively saying that they will not have an opportunity to redeem themselves.