Economy

Facebook Removes Russia's Internet Research Agency Pages, Accounts

Facebook Removes Russia's Internet Research Agency Pages, Accounts

After it was determined the IRA had targeted more than 100 million Americans between 2015 and 2017 on Facebook, the company took down the accounts of the perpetrators, and has been working with other governments to prevent similar meddling. The activities Facebook deleted on Tuesday were actually directed at people in Russian Federation and its neighboring countries including Azerbaijan and Ukraine. "Given the scale and scope of the Kremlin's disinformation campaign, it was always clear that Russian activity on Facebook extended far beyond the 470 fake accounts and pages that the company shut down in September".

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, told Reuters that the Russian company, which operates under several names, "has repeatedly acted to deceive people and manipulate people around the world, and we don't want them on Facebook anywhere".

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the platform took down 270 accounts and pages that originated from the Internet Research Agency, the Russian "troll factory" that is said to be responsible for interfering in foreign elections, including the 2016 presidential vote in the United States. Thus, Facebook made a decision to ferret out these pages and related content, then do away with all of them.

He said that more than one million people had followed the Facebook pages and that 493,000 had followed the Instagram accounts.

Facebook said it removed the accounts and pages because the Internet Research Agency has lied about its identity in creating accounts, including some that purported to be American around the election.

More news: Putin demands inquiry into Salisbury nerve agent attack

In February, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election, indicted 13 Russians associated with the Internet Research Agency, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with Kremlin ties who the indictment said controlled the Internet Research Agency and related businesses.

Facebook has been dealt with substantial public criticism since it initially disclosed past year that the Russian troll farm had purchased $100,000 worth of ads in its platform.

Zuckerberg is expected to testify next week on privacy issues stemming from the controversy over a Trump-affiliated data consultancy's misuse of the Facebook data. Instead, it had to do with the fact that the agency set up "fake accounts" on Facebook to spread its propaganda.

The expanded response could provoke a backlash from Russian internet regulators. "Today's disclosure of more IRA-linked accounts is evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division, spread disinformation, and influence political debates around the globe". In particular, the company said that "inauthentic" accounts most likely operating out of Russian Federation had purchased $100,000 worth of political ads between 2015 and 2016. The campaigns have generally reflected Kremlin political goals, attacking critics of Russian Federation inside and outside the country.

The company should notify users who come in contact with fake accounts, said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement.


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