In continuation of the fallout from the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its bid to stem the spread of ‘fake news’, Facebook has removed more than 200 accounts and pages linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company known for activating inauthentic accounts.
The latest clampdown saw the social media giant delete 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook Pages linked to the IRA that had reached a total of 1.5 million users.
A blog post from Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said they also removed $167,000 worth of ads that had been purchased on both social networks.
“The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections,” Stamos wrote in the blog post, adding that Facebook would “remove every account” linked to the organization.
Most of the accounts and pages were in Russian language, targeting people who lived in Russia, Russian speakers living abroad or in neighbouring countries such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Experts accuse the St. Petersburg-based IRA of employing an army of so-called “trolls,” which posted misleading content in a bid to sway voters during the 2016 election.
This comes after the administration of Donald Trump hit the IRA and four other Russian firms with sanctions for alleged interference in America’s democracy.
US Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller had earlier indicted the group, accusing it of efforts to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”