In a blog post earlier today, Facebook revealed that the social network recently discovered and took down three networks of Russian accounts, groups and pages that were used to spread false information over the network. According to the blog post, these accounts were lying about their identities to interfere in the foreign affairs of African countries including Madagascar, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya.
In the blog post, the researchers revealed that these accounts weren’t just limited to Facebook as they spread their operations in other Facebook owned platforms such as Instagram as well. The company revealed the following data about the accounts:
- Presence on Facebook: 35 Facebook accounts, 53 Pages, 7 Groups and 5 Instagram accounts.
- Followers: About 475,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 450 people followed one or more of these Groups and around 650 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
- Advertising: Around $77,000 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in US dollars. The first ad ran in April 2018 and the most recent ad ran in October 2019.
According to Facebook, the suspended accounts and associated pages and groups discussed local and international politics on a regular basis while spreading false information. Upon further investigation, Facebook took down additional 17 Facebook accounts, 18 pages, 3 groups, and six Instagram accounts that focused primarily on Sudan and 14 Facebook accounts, 12 pages, one group, and one Instagram account that focused on Libya.
Facebook’s attempt at blocking fake information on the platform isn’t surprising considering the social network has come under heavy scrutiny over last couple of years since the discovery of its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Recently the company removed 137 accounts, pages and groups from Facebook and Instagram that engaged in similar practice in the UK and Romania.