Facebook, Twitter take down Russian network

Facebook says it has dismantled a small network of accounts and pages that were part of a Russian influence operation.

The company said the campaign was linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organisation close to the Russian government and accused of interference in the 2016 US election and other elections in the west.

Similarly, Twitter suspended five accounts from the same network ahead of the US presidential election slated for November 3, 2020.

The operation centred around PeaceData, which claimed to be a non-profit news website in English and Arabic.

Facebook said it removed 13 accounts and two pages, which sought to “target public debate in the US” and other countries, including the UK and Egypt.

But the operation had achieved “very little reach”, with around 14,000 accounts following one or more of the pages it had removed, Facebook said. The English-language page had around 200 followers.

The deleted accounts used fake names and profile pictures, Facebook said, but real and “unwitting” freelance writers appeared to have written for the PeaceData website.

Twitter, meanwhile, said it had suspended five accounts “for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors”.

It added that the content created by the accounts was “low quality and spammy, and most Tweets from these accounts received few, if any, Likes or Retweets”.

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