Facebook has uncovered yet another network of fake accounts with ties to Russia’s intelligence services. As with another recent investigation, Facebook says the fake accounts posed as editors and other media entities in order to trick actual journalists into writing articles for them.
The social network disclosed the takedowns, saying that the fake accounts had gained around 59,000 followers on Facebook and 2,000 on Instagram. Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the accounts in question could have also been used in the same kinds of “hack-and-leak operations” Russia used in 2016.
“While we have not seen the networks we removed today engage in these efforts, or directly target the US 2020 election, they are linked to actors associated with election interference in the US in the past, including those involved in ‘DC leaks’ in 2016,” Gleicher wrote.
“These fake personas posed as editors and researchers to solicit articles for these websites. This network posted primarily in Russian and English about news and current events, including protests and elections in Belarus, Russian and Ukrainian politics, geopolitical conspiracies, Russia-NATO relations, Russia’s relations with neighboring countries, and criticism of US foreign policy, socio-economic issues in the US, and US political candidates on both sides of the political spectrum.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook says it found fake accounts linked to Russian state actors. Earlier this month the company took down a handful of accounts tied to Russia’s Internet Research Agency that successfully tricked US journalists into writing articles for a website called PeaceData.
Facebook’s latest takedowns also caught networks of Russia-linked accounts that had targeted Turkey, Syria, Ukraine and other European countries.