Facebook has taken further action to remove accounts and pages linked to the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). In total, Facebook has removed 138 Facebook pages, 70 Facebook, and 65 Instagram accounts. All ads relating to the removed pages, totaling over $167,000 in ad revenue, have also been deleted by the social network.
Although 95 percent of the pages run by the Internet Research Agency were in Russian, the organization gained notoriety during the 2016 Presidential election. At the time, the IRA was running fake pages designed to look like grassroots organizations in the U.S. were behind them. These pages would spread fake news and information designed to polarize political opinion in the run-up to the election.
Explaining why Facebook had taken action against the IRA Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos said:
“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 US presidential elections. It’s why we don’t want them on Facebook.”
Stamos also went on to say that this latest batch of pages had only been removed because of their association with the Internet Research Agency rather than for the particular content they were displaying. Going even further, Stamos continued by saying that Facebook will keep removing accounts and pages linked to the IRA until all linked accounts had been deleted.
As well as punitive action by Facebook, the Internet Research Agency has also come under fire from other actors. The White House issued sanctions for election interference, and the U.S. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment against the organization for its efforts to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”
Facebook also released some sample images of the types of pages that were being run by the IRA which can be seen here.
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