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Facebook, Twitter remove Russia-linked fake accounts targeting Americans

Facebook HQ. (eston/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Social-media giants Facebook and Twitter say they have removed a number of Russia-linked fake accounts that targeted U.S. users from their operations in Ghana and Nigeria.

Facebook on March 12 said the accounts it removed were in the “early stages” of building an audience on behalf of individuals in Russia, posting on topics such as black history, celebrity gossip, and fashion.

It said its investigation found links to an NGO in Ghana called EBLA, or Eliminating Barriers To The Liberation Of Africa, and to people associated with past activity by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), a so-called “troll factory” based in the city of St. Petersburg.

The IRA was mentioned repeatedly by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Twitter said the accounts it removed emphasized social issues such as race and civil rights to sow discord but that they did not appear to favor any particular candidate or ideology.

Twitter said the accounts attempted “to sow discord by engaging in conversations about social issues, like race and civil rights.”

The companies removed 49 Facebook accounts, 69 Facebook pages, 85 Instagram accounts, and 71 Twitter accounts.

Social-media companies are under pressure to police foreign and domestic misinformation on their platforms, particularly since U.S. intelligence officials said that Russia used social-media platforms for an influence operation aimed at electing President Donald Trump — a claim that Moscow has denied.