Facebook and Twitter say they have removed numerous false social media acｃounts linked to Russia that targeted the American public.
Facebook said in a statement that the network of acｃounts appeared to be in the process of building up a following of U.S.-based users. The network was operated by people in Ghana and Nigeria for individuals in Russia.
Facebook said its investigation found that the acｃounts had ties to individuals linked to past activity by Russia’s Internet Research Agency. U.S. officials have accused that group of leading a major disinformation campaign online in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In some cases, the removed acｃounts claimed to be nongovernmental organizations or personal blogs.
The acｃounts on Facebook and on the company’s Instagram service attempted to gain users by posting about issues like black history, fashion, and news about famous Americans. In total, Facebook removed 49 acｃounts, 69 Facebook pages and 85 Instagram acｃounts. Twitter removed 71 acｃounts.
Facebook said the acｃounts did not appear to center on elections. They also did not include support or criticism of individual political candidates.
Facebook’s statement said that while the company is making progress in identifying and stopping such abuses, the problem represents “an ongoing challenge” it is dealing with.
“That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies,” the statement said.
Twitter said the acｃounts it removed dealt mainly with social issues such as race and civil rights, without favoring any candidate or political ideas.
The latest removals follow a recent report that found Russia’s campaign of election interference has not reduced since 2016 and appears to be getting more difficult to discover.
Young Mie Kim, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created the recent report. She found that Russia-linked social media acｃounts were posting about many of the same issues as during the 2016 elections. These include race relations, gun laws and immigration. Facebook has since removed those acｃounts, too.
Last month, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray, warned that Russia was still involved in a campaign of “information warfare” that uses false social media acｃounts to spread disinformation.
Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in U.S. elections.
Words in This Story
acｃount – n. an arrangement in which a person uses internet or service of a particular company
network – n. a system or group of connected parts
blog – n. a regularly ｕpdated website or web page, usually run by an individual or small groups
fashion – n. the most popular style of clothes, appearance or behavior at a particular time
LGBTQ – adj. a term that is short for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer
challenge – n. a difficult task that tests a person’s abilities