Facebook has removed over 100 fake accounts and pages that were posting misinformation with links to Roger Stone, a long-time Republican and trusted ally of US President Donald Trump.
Facebook connected Stone’s Facebook and Instagram accounts with a US-based network that also had ties to the far-right group called Proud Boys.
The Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, and members have attended right-wing extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
In total, Facebook removed 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Pages, and 4 Instagram accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the US.
“Several of these Pages had links to Proud Boys, a hate group we banned in 2018. Some Pages appeared to have acquired followers from Pakistan and Egypt to make themselves seem more popular than they were,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy, said in a statement late Wednesday.
This network — which was also active on other internet platforms — was most active between 2015 and 2017 which was the time for US election.
Since then, the majority of these accounts have been dormant, and some were permanently deleted by the users.
“The Page admins and account owners posted about local politics in Florida, Roger Stone and his Pages, websites, books, and media appearances, a Florida land and water resources bill, the hacked materials released by Wikileaks ahead of the US 2016 election, candidates in the 2016 primaries and general election, and the Roger Stone trial,” explained Facebook.
The social network started looking into this network as part of its investigation into the Proud Boys’ attempts to return to Facebook after being designated and banned from the platform.
“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” said Facebook.
In a statement to The New York Times, Stone denied the charges: “The banning of individuals who may choose to re-post things that I have posted is an even more extraordinary act of inappropriate censorship.”
“I will bring immediate legal action against the corporate parents of the social media platforms”.
Facebook also purged four separate networks for violating its policy against foreign interference and coordinated inauthentic behavior originated in Canada and Ecuador, Brazil, Ukraine, and the US.
In Canada, Facebook removed 41 Facebook accounts, 77 Pages, and 56 Instagram accounts.
The social network also removed 35 Facebook accounts, 14 Pages, 1 Group and 38 Instagram accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in Brazil.
“We also removed 72 Facebook accounts, 35 Pages, and 13 Instagram accounts that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour in Ukraine,” said Facebook.