Facebook pulls down more fake accounts tied to Russia

People behind the accounts used "deceptive tactics" such as impersonating other users, the social network says.

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Queenie Wong
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Facebook is taking down more fake accounts tied to Russia.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is purging more fake accounts tied to Russia from the world's largest social network.  

The social network said Monday that it removed 118 fake accounts, pages and groups from Russia that posted content about politics in Ukraine and other countries in Europe. One of the accounts was on Instagram, the photo-sharing app that Facebook owns. 

Facebook has been under mounting pressure to combat misinformation on its platform after the tech giant discovered that Russian trolls used its platform to sow discord during the 2016 US presidential election. Since then, the company has been pulling down fake accounts that are not only tied to Russia, but also other countries such as Iran, the UK and even the US. 

Facebook also opened a new operations center in Ireland to combat fake news ahead of the EU parliamentary elections that will take place this month. The center was modeled after an election "war room" the company launched during the 2018 US midterm elections. 

"We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we've said before, it's an ongoing challenge," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy in a blog post. "We're committed to continually improving to stay ahead."

The company pulled down the Russia-linked accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior," which means they misled others about why they were running the accounts and their identities. 


Fake accounts tied to Russia posted political content. 


Facebook said it discovered two separate operations related to the fake accounts from Russia. One campaign, which included 97 fake Facebook accounts, pages and groups, focused on Ukraine and posted about local and political news. The fake accounts and pages garnered thousands of followers, according to Facebook. About 34,000 accounts followed one or more of the fake Facebook pages and about 86,000 accounts joined at least one of the fake groups.

A Facebook page is a public profile that organizations, businesses, celebrities and others create on the social network. A Facebook group is a place where people who share a common interest gather to chat.

Some of the fake accounts tried to get Facebook users to visit other websites. One post, for example, included a link to an article with a headline that read "The Russian Federation's MoD has blamed the Ukrainian armed forces for intentional attacks on Russian journalists in Donetsk."

Facebook also found a separate campaign in which fake Russian accounts were used to target Austria, the Baltics, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and the UK. The social network said the people behind the accounts used "deceptive tactics" such as impersonating other users and joining Facebook groups. They also tried to "amplify allegations about a public figure working on behalf of intelligence services." The fake accounts shared posts about hot-button political issues including immigration, religion and NATO. 

Facebook said it passed on information about the fake accounts to law enforcement, policy makers and industry partners. 

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