Facebook, keen to respond to criticism over its influence on elections, cracked down this Monday on “coordinated inauthentic behaviour", turfing out around 712 accounts and pages. Most of these were trafficking in messages both against and in favour of the two main political rivals in India, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The exercise was not based on any offence caused by the kind of content posted, but on other identifiable patterns. Though done in other countries, it marks a new approach in India.

Coordination of online activity is easily understood, but what qualifies as “inauthentic"?

By Facebook’s rules, this refers to masked people trying to mislead users on their true identities, a common practice in the spread of falsehoods and business of slander. Notably, no party’s verified accounts have been removed; these are authentic.

Inauthentic would be a bunch of trolls hired to span the platform and pose as party insiders with hot gossip of what is going on. Naïve internet users may not realize that such manipulation is part of a plot to achieve a political objective or fulfil a hidden agenda. Will a ban end online skullduggery? Of course not. But it’s a start.