Latest in Gear

Image credit:

Facebook bans hundreds of misleading accounts that targeted US users

The operation had ties with a company that was recently banned from advertising on the platform.
Igor Bonifacic, @igorbonifacic
December 20, 2019
167 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Facebook has removed a network of foreign actors that was spreading misinformation aimed at US users. The operation posted content related to current affairs in the US, with much of it in support of President Donald Trump. According to the company, approximately 55 million accounts, the majority of which it claims are from outside the US, followed one or more of the operation's pages. The group frequently used fake accounts to direct people to news sites off of Facebook.

The individuals that orchestrated the campaign posted content on behalf of The BL, and Facebook said its investigation linked the activity to Epoch Media Group. The latter is the publisher of The Epoch Times, which Facebook banned earlier this year for shady ad buying practices. While it doesn't directly credit the website, Facebook may have been alerted to the group's misinformation campaign by Snopes, an independent publication that was the first to notice BL's activity and link it to The Epoch Times.

In addition to US users, the operation also targeted Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese speakers globally, and in some instances used AI to to cover its tracks. The mostly Vietnamese operation also included people and pages from the US to help make it look more authentic and evade detection by Facebook. Besides news articles and memes related to Trump, the group also posted on topics related to conservative ideology, family values and religious freedom. In all, the company says it banned 610 accounts, 89 pages, 156 groups and 72 Instagram accounts as part of its enforcement action. The company says the operation also spent close to $9.5 million on buying ads on Facebook and Instagram.

"We're taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted," Facebook wrote on its website. "In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action."

In a separate enforcement action, the company also removed an operation that was gaming its social network in the country of Georgia. The smaller operation involved 39 Facebook accounts, 344 pages, 13 groups and 22 Instagram accounts and was focused mostly on domestic news and politics.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Share
167 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Presenting the Best of CES 2021 winners!

Presenting the Best of CES 2021 winners!

View
'Hitman 3' owners won't have to buy earlier games to play their maps

'Hitman 3' owners won't have to buy earlier games to play their maps

View
Audi and BMW shut down car subscription programs

Audi and BMW shut down car subscription programs

View
ICYMI: More gadget highlights from CES 2021

ICYMI: More gadget highlights from CES 2021

View
Homebrew Labo kit gives you a full-body 'Mario Kart' workout

Homebrew Labo kit gives you a full-body 'Mario Kart' workout

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr