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Facebook removes hundreds of Russian fake accounts

Social networking giant says pages removed after engaging 'in coordinated inauthentic behavior'

  | 18.01.2019
Facebook removes hundreds of Russian fake accounts

Washington DC

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON 

Facebook announced Thursday that it has removed hundreds of accounts linked to Russia for engaging "in coordinated inauthentic behavior".

The social networking site said the pages had been removed from both Facebook and Instagram, the photo-heavy platform it owns.

Facebook said it discovered two ongoing operations originating in Russia with one active in numerous countries and the other carrying out activity specific to Ukraine.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's cybersecurity policy chief, wrote in a blog post that the social media site did not detect any links between the two operations but said they shared similar tactics, including the creation of accounts and networks designed to conceal their true origins and activities.

"The people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action," wrote Gleicher.

In all, 364 Facebook Russia-origin pages and accounts were removed, which had operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Central and Eastern European countries.

The pages and accounts, Gleicher wrote, were linked to employees of Sputnik, Russia's state-owned news agency.

An additional 107 Facebook pages, groups and accounts as well as 41 Instagram accounts were removed on a tip from U.S. law enforcement.

That Russia-origin network reportedly operated from Ukraine with members posing as Ukrainians sharing news stories.

Gleicher said Facebook identified "some technical overlap" between the operation and a Russia-based effort on the social media site to sway public opinion in President Donald Trump's favor in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

U.S. intelligence determined that the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) was used to help develop a massive online presence to influence the election.

The U.S. has since indicted in absentia 13 individuals for their alleged roles, and the individuals and the IRA itself have been sanctioned.

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