Oct. 30 (UPI) — Facebook suspended dozens of accounts after uncovering fake Russian-linked networks created to target users in multiple African countries, the company announced Wednesday.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the accounts, which included pages, groups and Instagram accounts, engaged in foreign interference, “which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign actor.”
“Although the people behind these networks attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation connected these campaigns to entities associated with Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who was previously indicted by the US Justice Department,” Gleicher wrote in a blog post. “We have shared information about our findings with law enforcement, policymakers and industry partners.”
In one network, the social media company removed 35 Facebook accounts, 53 Facebook pages, seven Facebook groups and five Instagram accounts tied to Russia that targeted users in Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.
More than 475,000 followed one or more of the pages, groups or Instagram accounts. The false accounts spent about $77,000 on Facebook ads between April 2018 and October 2019.
In the second network, the company removed 17 Facebook accounts, 18 pages, three groups and six Instagram accounts that targeted people in Sudan. More than 450,000 people followed one or more of the accounts, and the fake accounts spent about $160 on Facebook ads.
In the third network, the company removed 14 Facebook accounts, 12 pages, one group and one Instagram account targeting users in Libya. More than 210,000 people followed one or more of the accounts, and the fake accounts spent about $10,000 on Facebook ads.
Gleicher said the Russian-linked actors used a combinations of authentic accounts of nationals and fake or compromised accounts, and shared articles from local news agencies as well as Russian-linked media. The accounts typically posted about issues related to politics, crime, natural disasters, health, immigration and violence conflict.