- Facebook removed disinformation accounts it says were linked to Roger Stone, the longtime friend of President Trump.
- The accounts involved posted about “candidates in the 2016 primaries and general election, and the Roger Stone trial,” Facebook said.
- Facebook also removed networks that originated in Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, and Ukraine.
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Facebook has removed disinformation accounts after an “investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates” and other political figures in five countries, the social media giant said in a blog post Wednesday, citing involvement of President Trump’s longtime friend.
“In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing, and that was the basis for our action,” Facebook said.
“The Page admins and account owners posted about local politics in Florida, Roger Stone and his Pages, websites, books, and media appearances, a Florida land and water resources bill, the hacked materials released by Wikileaks ahead of the US 2016 election, candidates in the 2016 primaries and general election, and the Roger Stone trial,” Facebook said.
Facebook said the people behind this activity used fake accounts to pose as residents of Florida, post and comment on their own content to make it appear more popular than it is.
Stone was convicted on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
In April, the FBI unsealed records showing Stone allegedly bought hundreds of fake Facebook pages in 2016, which he used to circulate news articles that would damage his political rivals and, later, to defend himself against charges of Russian collusion. Facebook said those records led to the new actions.
The company said it “identified the full scope of this network following the recent public release of search warrants pertaining to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” The records were unsealed after The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Politico jointly petitioned the court.
“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said.
On the size of the Stone network, Facebook said it removed 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Pages, and 4 accounts on Instagram. About 260,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 61,500 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts, Facebook said. Facebook also said “less than $US308,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for in US dollars” was linked to the accounts.
Facebook also removed networks that originated in Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Ukraine, and the United States.
“The majority of the activity we removed today focused on domestic audiences in each country and was linked to commercial entities and individuals associated with political campaigns and political offices,” the blog post said.