Facebook announced on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, that it had suspended several accounts used by Russian military intelligence which promoted a variance of false information and narratives online. The undisclosed accounts of Russian intelligence have been used to spread propaganda against its neighbor rival, Ukraine and many other countries in Eastern Europe.
Using Accounts for False Political Propaganda
Over past years, Facebook has been facing several attacks from various regulators and users who alleged that many illegal and unauthorized organizations have accessed the social platform to circulate their misleading information.
With the aim to prevent governments and political groups from using the platform for spreading false information, Facebook claimed on Wednesday that it has shut down disinformation campaigns from countries including Russia. In a statement, Facebook asserted, “Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to Russian military intelligence services.”
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nevertheless, Moscow has previously denied Western allegations of political meddling including US Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report of Russian interference through social media accounts in the 2016 US presidential election.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher claimed that for the latest operations, Russia used more than 100 accounts on Facebook and the photo-sharing platform, Instagram disguising mostly as journalists of those countries where Russia targeted to influence. Through these fake accounts, Russia meddled in the politics of several countries by spreading false information such as that happened in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea and the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014.
Facebook’s Suspension of Fake Accounts
Many unauthorized organizations and groups, through using fake accounts, have been constantly making efforts to access social media platforms for their different interests. Facebook has identified more such intrusion were coming from Russian intelligence over the past few years.
The researchers at social media analytics firm Graphika, who examined and reviewed the accounts related to Facebook, said most of these activities of circulating fake news by Russian accounts dated back to 2016 and 2017 although some accounts were active as recently as this year.
Gleicher told Reuters, “We’ve known for a long time that these people look for authentic voices to amplify their narratives… It is more of a classic intelligence operation, trying to manipulate key individuals to achieve a high impact.”
Ben Nimmo, Graphika’s head of investigations, claimed that they could gather a few thousand followers of these accounts and retrieved articles published in some local media platforms. Nimmo added, “The operation tried to poison the well of information by using false personas to plant pro-Kremlin and anti-Western narratives online and in local news outlets.”
In addition to this, Facebook claimed that it had also suspended two other fake accounts in which one was linked to a previously-identified Iranian network that targeted the US and the other was linked up to a PR firm in Vietnam.
I’m Roshan, a journalist, blogger and music lover. I like covering global news related to finance, business, and technology. Focusing on the collection of true and reliable information, I rely on working by conducting interviews with business leaders and talking to the inside sources of companies.
You can reach out to me at: [email protected]