Facebook closes some disinformation pages covertly associated with Russia
Facebook have removed several hundred accounts, groups and pages associated with Russia that have been manipulating information on both Facebook and Instagram under concealed identities. The firm made the announcement on its website on 18 January.
The closed accounts had been, according to Facebook, covertly associated with Russia's state propaganda agency Sputnik. By closing the accounts, Facebook intervened against two operations launched from Russia, one aimed at Eastern Europe and post-Soviet states, the other at Ukraine.
While the operations were not interconnected, they were exploiting the same tactic to confuse users with regard to their own identities and intentions, Facebook said. There were 364 Facebook pages closed because they were associated with employees of the Sputnik agency who disseminated disinformation to the Baltic states, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.
The Czech Republic is not mentioned in the list of the countries targeted, despite the fact that Sputnik does have its own Czech-language version. The Facebook pages with concealed or fake identities were dedicated thematically to criticizing anti-corruption efforts, NATO, and protest movements.
Another 107 Facebook pages and 41 accounts on Instagram targeting Ukraine were also closed. According to Facebook, their move to close the accounts was instigated by the US security apparatus.
Reuters reminds readers that the administrators of Facebook have been criticized over the past two years for their reluctance to combat extremist content and offensive propaganda. Facebook and Twitter claim to have already deleted millions of posts and to have closed many accounts associated with Iran, Russia, and other states accused of disseminating disinformation and of information manipulation.
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