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Facebook Removes Russia-based Internet Research Agency-Controlled Pages

CSO Alex Stamos explains why the company deleted 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts, and 138 Facebook pages.

Facebook has removed 70 Facebook accounts, 138 Facebook pages, and 65 Instagram accounts controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), chief security officer Alex Stamos reported this week.

Of the pages with content, 95% were written in Russian and directed toward Russian-speakers both within Russia and around the world, including bordering countries Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. About 1.08 million Facebook users follow at least one of the pages deleted, and about 493,000 users follow at least one of the 65 Instagram accounts, Stamos writes in a blog post.

The pages and accounts were removed solely because they were controlled by the IRA and not because of their content, he explains. Topics included commentary on domestic and international political issues, and promotion of Russian culture and tourism.

In February 2018, the IRA was one of three Russian entities indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The indictment also accused 13 Russian nationals for influencing the results using social platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. They allegedly concealed their identities and IRA affiliation by using stolen data including Social Security numbers and birthdates of real American citizens.

"The IRA has consistently used inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people," Stamos writes. "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." He says he anticipates more IRA-linked accounts will be discovered and if they are, they too will be taken down.

Read more details and view samples of the Pages here.

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