Facebook Deletes More Russian-Linked Accounts

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Social network says 97 accounts from Russia were responsible for ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’

Facebook’s crackdown on Russian accounts peddling fake news continues after the social network said that it had deleted a further 97 pages, groups and accounts.

The firm was clear in blaming two operations from Russia that were guilty of creating multiple accounts that were misleading others about who they were and what they were doing.

Last August Facebook revealed it had taken down over 650 Facebook pages and groups that it said were linked to Russia.

Russian internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012

Russian accounts

Facebook made the announcement on its latest takedown in a blog posting by Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at the firm.

“Today we removed multiple Pages, Groups and accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and Instagram,” Gleicher wrote. “We found two separate, unconnected operations that originated in Russia and used similar tactics, creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”

“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” the firm said. “We’re taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

Facebook’s Gleicher noted that these actors “were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior as part of a network emanating from Russia that focused on Ukraine.”

It said these actors were using fake accounts to disseminate content and increase engagement, and also to drive people to an off-platform domain that aggregated various web content.

An example of this ‘content’ saw the publication of stories that Russian Federation’s MoD had blamed the Ukrainian armed forces for intentional attacks on Russian journalists in Donetsk.

“They frequently posted about local and political news including topics like the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Russian politics, political news in Europe, politics in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war,” said Facebook.

The firm said it had shared their investigations of the removed accounts and pages with law enforcement, policymakers and industry partners.

Improved policing

Facebook had in March removed 2,632 pages, groups, and accounts from Facebook and Instagram linked to Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo for similar reasons, Reuters reported.

Russia is not alone in finding its propaganda halted on the platform. Last month Facebook banned a number of groups and individuals associated with the far right for “spreading hate”.

The ban includes a number of well known groups and individuals such as the British National Party (BNP) and its former leader Nick Griffin, as well as the English Defence League and the National Front.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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