Wednesday, 13 November, 2019

Facebook is banning hundreds more accounts run by Russian trolls

Facebook labels users political categories Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Patty Aguilar | 04 April, 2018, 02:46

The pages and accounts on the whole burned through $167,000 on promoting since January 1 2015, as indicated by numbers gave by Facebook.

"The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during, and after the 2016 USA presidential elections. While we respect people and governments sharing political views on Facebook, we do not allow them to set up fake accounts to do this", Zuckerberg wrote. "We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts exclusively because they were controlled by the IRA - not based on the content". It did not offer data on how many users were reached by the 70 IRA-linked Facebook accounts that have been removed. "This Russian agency has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the US, Europe, and Russia - and we don't want them on Facebook anywhere in the world", he wrote. He's since pulled a 180, handing over records in response to congressional inquiries.

Facebook is still finding - and banning - accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll army with ties to the Kremlin that tried to sway public opinion on Facebook during the 2016 USA presidential election.

"This included commentary on domestic and worldwide political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues", he added.

Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos also said Russia-linked actors had spent almost $170,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads since the beginning of 2015.

According to Stamos, finding the pages took "months of work" by Facebook. Facebook's sampling of IRA posts includes pages called RuOpen, Politkach, and Spicy Blogger, posting content like political jokes and a request for "strange or scary" stories from readers.

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More than one million Facebook users followed at least one of the now deleted pages and 493,000 Instagram users followed at least one of the now deleted accounts.

Facebook will be updating its Help Center tool in the next few weeks so users can check whether they liked or followed any IRA-linked pages. Previously the company had only taken down fake accounts and accounts spreading fake news. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said in an emailed statement.

The removal of accounts and pages are mainly in Russian.

A sample of ads Facebook says were generated by accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency.

Since the 2016 poll, which featured waves of Russian propaganda flooding America's unregulated social media platforms, including Twitter and Google, Facebook has come under increasing pressure too better regulate its online ads and news-feeds to prevent the spread of misinformation.

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