Facebook, Twitter Dismantle Russia-Backed Online Interference Campaign

Facebook said it suspended 13 accounts and two pages, which seek to "target public debate in the US" and other countries, including the UK and Egypt.

Facebook and Twitter announced they have dismantled a Russia-backed online interference campaign targeting the United States.

The company said the campaign was connected to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), an organisation close to the Russian government and accused of interference in the 2016 United States election.

Twitter also removed five accounts from the same network.

The operation centred around PeaceData, which alleged to be a non-profit news website in English and Arabic.

Facebook and Twitter said the campaign had attained very limited success.

News were released just two months before the United States presidential election between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate nominee Joe Biden.

Tuesday’s announcements by Facebook and Twitter came as the result of alliance with the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force over the PeaceData website, which served a left-leaning audience.

Facebook said it suspended 13 accounts and two pages, which seek to “target public debate in the US” and other countries, including the UK and Egypt.

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But the operation had attained “very little reach”, with around 14,000 accounts following one or more of the pages it had suspended, Facebook said. The English-language page had around 200 followers.

The suspended accounts used fake names and profile pictures, Facebook said, but real and “unwitting” freelance writers seemed to have written for the PeaceData website.

Twitter, meanwhile, said it had removed five accounts “for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors”.

It added that the content created by the accounts was “low quality and spammy, and most Tweets from these accounts received few, if any, Likes or Retweets”.

The IRA was one of three Russian companies and 13 people cite by the United States Department of Justice as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claimed Russian interference in the 2016 US election campaign.

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The former FBI director spent two years investigating into claimed collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

He ended with that Russia had interfered in the election with the aim of benefiting President Donald Trump’s campaign, although he found no proof of a conspiracy.

Earlier this year, FBI director Christopher Wray said that Russian tried to speculate disinformation on social media had “never stopped”, but added that it was not currently on the same scale as seen during the 2016 campaign.

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