Russia is trying to meddle in the U.S. election again, and Facebook said it has removed a network linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) to stop the effort.
The company announced Tuesday that it found a network of accounts, Pages, and Groups on its platform and took it all down because it was attempting to spread misinformation and deceptive content around the U.S. presidential election. Facebook also located and removed another network based in the U.S. targeting Latin American politics, and a third network based in Pakistan that was targeting people in that country and in India.
The Russian activity involved 13 Facebook accounts and two Pages. The effort included fake accounts that looked real, and the organizers behind the campaign tried to purchase political advertising on the social media platform.
Content posted to the network pointed to a fake, left-leaning news website called Peacedata. Topics covered included social unrest in the U.S., NATO, European politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, Middle East issues, the campaigns of both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and other hot-button issues.
Combined, the network had roughly 14,000 followers before it was removed. It spent less than $500 on Facebook ads.
"They've gotten better at hiding who they are, but their impact has gotten smaller and smaller," Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, told The Washington Post.
Another network Facebook removed was based in the U.S. and was linked to a firm called CLS Strategies, which, according to its website, offers public relations, international relations, crisis and litigation, and digital services. The campaign was centered on Venezuela, Mexico and Bolivia.
That network included 26 Facebook accounts, 46 Pages and 36 Instagram accounts. It had more than 500,000 followers and had spent roughly $3.6 million on Facebook ads.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election through the dissemination of fake news stories, a massive undertaking on Facebook that involved fake accounts and deceptive content.
Facebook said it started its most recent probe of Russian interference after receiving information about it from the FBI.
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