Facebook announced on Friday it has taken down and removed two unconnected networks of accounts, Pages, and Groups engaging in foreign and government interference through the social media platform.
(File photo: AP)
A report on the company’s website says the people behind the disinformation made widespread use of fake accounts, with some using profile pictures generated by artificial intelligence.
The company reported that the first operation originated from the country of Georgia and targeted domestic audiences, while the second campaign originated from Vietnam and the U.S., and targeted American users.
Facebook said it removed "39 Facebook accounts, 344 Pages and 22 Instagram accounts," originating in Georgia. Facebook linked the fake accounts to a Georgian advertising agency called Panda, and the "Georgian Dream-led government." According to Foreign Policy magazine, Georgian Dream is a political party promoting close ties with Russia.
Facebook also announced that it deleted "610 accounts, 89 Pages, 156 Groups and 72 Instagram accounts that originated in Vietnam and the U.S. " The Menlo Park-based company linked the fake social media activities to the Epoch Media Group - a New York-based news and entertainment company - and "individuals in Vietnam working on its behalf."
According to Facebook, the disinformation mainly targeted The BL - a U.S. site publishing news content in Chinese, English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Around 55 million accounts followed at least "one or more of the Pages," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Security Policy. The "vast majority" of these accounts "were outside of the U.S.," he said. "We identified these accounts through our investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region," Gleicher added.
Owners of the fake accounts reportedly "posted memes and other content about U.S. political news, including impeachment, conservative ideology, political candidates, trade, family values and freedom of religion."
Facebook says it will continue to investigate "coordinated inauthentic behavior."