A coordinated political influence campaign has been detected and dealt with ahead of November’s U.S. congressional elections by Facebook Inc. The company said on Tuesday that it has taken down dozens of fake accounts on its site.
According to Reuters, a Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 U.S. election by posting and buying ads on Facebook.
U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed Facebook’s claims while Moscow has denied involvement.
Facebook on Tuesday announced that 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram have been removed because they were part of an effort to combat foreign meddling in U.S. elections, attempts that lawmakers have called dangerous for democracy.
“This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,” the company said in a blog post.
“We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” Facebook said.
Facebook reported that more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages and that about $11,000 had been spent on about 150 ads, adding that the pages created more than 30 events since May 2017.
The company reported that 126 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed political content on Facebook since 2016, while on Instagram about 16 million may have been exposed to Russian information.
Adam Schiff in a statement urged Facebook to move against foreign groups trying to sway American voters and to warn legitimate users that such activity, as seen in 2016, is recurring this year.
“Today’s announcement from Facebook demonstrates what we’ve long feared: that malicious foreign actors bearing the hallmarks of previously-identified Russian influence campaigns continue to abuse and weaponize social media platforms to influence the U.S. electorate,” Schiff said.