Facebook Removes Russian Disinformation Network, Including in Georgia

Facebook announced on Thursday it had removed several hundred fake accounts linked to Russian military intelligence and other Kremlin-backed actors involved in previous efforts to interfere in world politics.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, said: “This network appears to have centered around a number of regions, including the Far East, Russia’s neighboring countries, and Syria. They used fake accounts to create elaborate fictitious personas across many internet services, posing as journalists to contact news organizations, purporting to be locals in countries they targeted, and managing groups and pages, some of which proclaimed to be hacktivist groups”.

Facebook has hitherto removed 214 bogus users, 35 pages, 18 groups and 34 Instagram accounts.

“These clusters also focused on driving people to their off-platform sites and other social media platforms where, among other topics, they promoted content related to past alleged leaks of compromising information. The operation had almost no following on our platforms when we removed it”, Gleicher added.

The individuals involved in this campaign posted in many languages including English, Ukrainian, Russian and Arabic, as they tailored their fictitious activity to specific audiences. They frequently posted about news and current events, including the Syrian civil war, Turkish domestic politics, geopolitical issues in the Asia-Pacific region, NATO, the war in Ukraine, and politics in the Baltics, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and the US.

“We identified this activity as part of our investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior connected to the networks we had removed in August 2018 and February 2020. Although the people behind this operation took steps to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation connected these clusters to the Russian military including military intelligence services”, said Gleicher.

Last week, Facebook launched its third-party fact-checking programme in Georgia, together with local organisations FactCheck Georgia and Myth Detector.

The program envisages improving the quality and authenticity of stories in the news feed, wherein Facebook removes accounts and content that violate its standards or ad policies, reduces the distribution of false news and inauthentic content, and informs people by giving them more context on the posts they see.

Photo source: Facebook

25 September 2020 16:31