Facebook takes down hundreds of fake accounts and pages linked to Russia

Facebook has removed hundreds of fake pages and accounts linked to Russian operations, the company has confirmed.

In a blog post published Thursday, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the company had removed “multiple pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram.”

Gleicher said the fake accounts were part of two separate operations, both originating in Russia. One was linked to employees at Sputnik, a Russian news agency based in Moscow. The operation included 364 pages and accounts operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, and Central and Eastern European countries, Facebook said.

Facebook said it was removing the pages on the basis that the people behind the activity “coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves.”

The page administrators and account owners presented themselves as independent news pages or general news pages on topics ranging from the weather, travel and sports, Facebook said.

In a second operation, Facebook removed more than 100 Facebook pages and 40 Instagram accounts engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as part of a network that originated in Russia and operated out of Ukraine. Facebook said it received an initial tip on that operation from U.S. law enforcement.

Facebook said it had shared all its findings with U.S. law authorities, U.S. congress and other technology companies in impacted countries.

The social media giant has been embroiled in the debate over fake news and misinformation. In 2017, Facebook found Russia-based operatives had published thousands of posts in an effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election, won by Donald Trump.

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