Fri, 22 Feb 2019
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Seattle

Facebook removes anti-NATO pages linked to Russia

By Sheetal Sukhija, Seattle News
21 Jan 2019, 04:59 GMT+10

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - The world's largest social media company, Facebook has revealed that it has targeted and taken down hundreds of pages and accounts peddling fake news.

Revealing details of its crackdown in a blog post, the social media giant said that it had targeted "coordinated inauthentic behavior."

Facebook said that it had taken down 500 pages and accounts involved in peddling fake news in Central Europe, Ukraine and other Eastern European nations including Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia and Moldova.

The Facebook blogpost, which has been credited to the company's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, noted that the operation targeted and ended efforts being made by two separate groups linked to Russia to "manipulate people."

In its blog post, Facebook said that it removed "multiple Pages, groups and accounts that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram."

According to the company, the two operations originated in Russia and while one of them was active in multiple countries, the other one was specific to Ukraine.

Facebook said, "We didn't find any links between these operations, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing. We're taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they post. In these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action."

The blog post noted that the accounts were loosely connected to Russian state groups known to push fake news.

Facebook noted that the organizations that were running the networks of pages, posed as independent news sources.

While these sources regularly put out information about a variety of subjects, they also regularly wrote about anti-NATO sentiment and anti-corruption efforts.

The two accounts taken down by Facebook had over 900,000 followers and spent over $160,000 on adverts.

Gleicher wrote in the blog post, "Tackling pages that abuse Facebook was an 'ongoing challenge.' The people responsible are determined and well-funded. We constantly have to improve to stay ahead."

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