On Tuesday, Facebook confirmed that in August, it has taken down a network of Russian-linked fake accounts that we’re sharing news stories. The company admitted that it had done so after receiving a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The social media giant revealed that the fake accounts and pages it has removed were tied to an infamous Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency. The network of fake accounts and pages were on the social media platform for about three months before it has removed it in August. Then, a tip from the FBI made Facebook took down 13 Russian-linked fake accounts.
The social media giant has removed two pages and 13 fake accounts as they were linked to the Russian troll farm known for interfering with the 2016 US presidential elections. The company removed them as they were misleading users about their real identity and purpose on the platform. The fake accounts and pages were targeting Facebook users from the US, UK, Algeria, and Egypt, along with other countries where English is spoken intensively. What’s more, about 5% of the English posts were targeting US Facebook users as they contained news stories about President Donald Trump, the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon, and stories about candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and their campaigns to defeat President Trump.
Facebook revealed the impact of the fake pages and accounts
The fake accounts removed by Facebook used fake profile pictures, misleading Facebook users that they are news editors. Plus, the fake news editors also deceived freelance journalists into writing stories for their website, according to Facebook. The social media giant also revealed that nearly 14,000 accounts followed one of these two fake pages it has removed.
PeaceData, which described itself as a “global news organization” and had over 200 followers, was removed from Facebook. Twitter, another social media giant, has also revealed yesterday that it has suspended five accounts that were tied to the PeaceData page. Moreover, on LinkedIn, the group’s page was also removed.
However, the PeaceData website is still online, which is a sign of how difficult it is to combat a network that has spread over multiple Internet platforms. What’s more, PeaceData has so far already published over 500 articles in English and 200 articles in Arabic from February until August, when it Facebook took down 13 Russian-linked fake accounts and pages, including PeaceData.
Russia’s Internet Research Agency known for spreading fake social media news
This infamous Russian troll farm is well-known for using fake social media accounts to spread news and articles that sow discord among Americans in the 2016 US presidential election. However, details about the troll farm were revealed only after the election was over, which led to concerns that the social media giant isn’t making enough efforts to safeguard US elections.
Yet, since then, it seems that Facebook is working twice as harder to eliminate fake accounts and pages that are misleading and may interfere with political issues. For example, in March, the social media platform and Twitter have announced that they have pulled down a network of fake accounts in Ghana that have been created last year.