Facebook has removed several accounts owned by Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the group accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
"We removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts -- as well as 138 Facebook Pages -- that were controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, said in a blog post late on Tuesday.
Many of the Pages also ran ads, all of which have been removed. "Of the Pages that had content, the vast majority of them (95 percent) were in Russian -- targeted either at people living in Russia or Russian-speakers around the world including from neighbouring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine," Stamos said, who is reportedly planning to leave the company by August.
The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections. "We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the IRA -- not based on the content," said Stamos.
This included commentary on domestic and international political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues.
The US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation team is investigating into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook is also facing a backlash as a political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica that worked with Donald Trump's election team allegedly harvested 50 million Facebook profiles of US voters to influence their choices at the ballot box. The social network later suspended Cambridge Analytica for violating its policies and commitments.
Cambridge Analytica received user data from a Facebook app years ago that purported to be a psychological research tool, though the firm was not authorised to have that information.
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