Facebook has removed 138 Pages, 65 Instagram and 70 Facebook accounts linked to the Russian firm Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The IRA has – according to Facebook – used the offending accounts to deceive and manipulate users for a while now, including during and after the 2016 US presidential elections.

“The IRA has consistently used inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people. It’s why we remove every account we find that is linked to the organization — whether linked to activity in the US, Russia or elsewhere,” Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said in a statement.

The firm says that the IRA has spent the equivalent of $167 000 on Facebook and Instagram advertising since 1 January 2015.

Example of ads bought by accounts linked to IRA. Image – Facebook.

Facebook discovered hundreds of fake accounts linked to the IRA following the 2016 US elections. These accounts spread divisive content and were meant to disrupt and interfere with the elections according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“Since then, we have improved our techniques to prevent nation states from interfering in foreign elections, and we’ve built more advanced AI tools to remove fake accounts more generally,” added Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s security officer says that the firm will continue to combat bad actors seeking to influence users.

“We’ll keep fighting and we’re investing heavily in more people and better technology to constantly improve safety on Facebook,” concluded Stamos.

 

[Image – CC BY 2.0 Mambembe Arts & Crafts]