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Facebook removes hundreds of fake pages, accounts tied to Russia

Two separate operations out of Russia used similar tactics to mislead followers, the company says.

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Facebook has removed hundreds of fake pages and accounts that originated in Russia.

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More fake accounts linked to Russia have been kicked off the world's largest social network.

Facebook said Thursday it removed 364 pages and accounts that originated in Russia for engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Roughly 790,000 Facebook users followed one or more of these pages, which were part of a network operating in the Baltic region, Caucasus region, central and eastern Europe and central Asia, according to Facebook.

Here's one example from the 364 pages and accounts that were removed. 

Facebook

The fake accounts branded themselves as independent news pages or interest pages on topics ranging from travel to politicians, according to a Facebook blog post. The pages and accounts were also linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, Facebook said. They regularly posted topics such as anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements and anti-corruption.

This is Facebook's latest purge of what it calls inauthentic behavior. With more than 2 billion users worldwide, Facebook has been under pressure to protect the integrity of elections. In 2017, the social network revealed it found evidence that Russians used Facebook to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election and to create discord among Americans. Since then, Facebook has removed hundreds of fake accounts and pages.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who came under scrutiny over the social network's scandals, said in August that Facebook had shifted "from reactive to proactive detection" to strengthen its security and to tackle its fake news problem.  

In this latest purge, the company also removed 107 Facebook pages, groups and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts, that were tied to a second network originating in Russia and operating in Ukraine. Roughly 180,000 Facebook users and 55,000 Instagram users followed these fake accounts. Facebook said it identified some technical overlap with similar Russia-based behavior during the 2018 US midterm elections. 

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