Balkan trolls are reportedly stirring up Australian hard-right through Facebook

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The Australian hard-right is being agitated by trolls and scammers from the Balkans through Facebook pages that stoke fears on matters like Islam, refugees and political correctness.

According to ABC News, at least four popular pages distributing this material to a combined Australian fanbase of at least 130,000 are managed by administrators based in Kosovo, Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia.

The public broadcaster reports the pages stoke xenophobic fears and criticise politicians from Labor, the Greens and some moderate Liberals.

Only arch-conservative Senator Fraser Anning, who was universally condemned for making a “final solution” reference in his maiden speech to parliament, consistently received support on the pages. The ABC stresses Mr Anning is in no way associated with the pages.

While the Facebook pages have been taken down, a cybersecurity spokesperson for the social media giant told the ABC they were removed because of user behaviour, not because of the content.

As Australia prepares to head to the polls in May, the news again raises the spectre of political interference via social networks.

Facebook is still dealing with the brand damage of Russian hackers and fake news meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Earlier this year, the social network removed 500 pages and accounts alleged to be involved in spreading fake news in Central Europe, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.

Also related to potential election interference, in February the Australian parliament and the three major political parties were hacked in separate occasions by a “sophisticated state actor”.

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