Facebook said on Tuesday that it had found and removed more than 270 accounts and pages controlled by Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the so-called troll factory that became notorious for posting fraudulent and divisive material on the platform during the 2016 presidential election.
The company said most of the accounts and pages were in Russian and aimed at users in Russia and neighboring or nearby countries, including Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. The company did not claim the new accounts and pages had violated the company’s policies, but it said they had been taken down because of the Internet Research Agency’s past fraud. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, told Reuters that the Russian company, which operates under several names, “has repeatedly acted to deceive people and manipulate people around the world, and we don’t want them on Facebook anywhere.” In a blog post, Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said that “uncovering this activity took months of work by our team.” He said the company had taken down 70 accounts and 138 pages on Facebook and 65 accounts on Instagram, which Facebook owns. “We removed this latest set of pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the I.R.A. — not based on the content,” Mr. Stamos wrote. “This included commentary on domestic and international political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues.” He said that more than a million people had followed the Facebook pages and that 493,000 had followed the Instagram accounts. He said the company would update a tool on its help center to allow Facebook and Instagram users to find out whether they had followed the pages and users.\ In September, Facebook disclosed that it had discovered and taken down several hundreds fraudulent profiles and pages, most of them praising Donald J. Trump, denigrating Hillary Clinton or simply spreading
inflammatory memes and comments on such divisive issues as race, immigration and guns. In February, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election, indicted 13 Russians associated with the Internet Research Agency, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman with Kremlin ties who the indictment said controlled the Internet Research Agency and related businesses. None of those Russians have been arrested, and Russia is not expected to extradite any of them to the United States. But the indictments were widely viewed as Mr. Mueller’s effort to establish that crimes had been committed in the Russian interference, which President Trump has frequently derided as a “hoax.” Source https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/03/business/facebook-russian-trolls-removed.html