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Facebook revealed on Friday that it had taken down two networks of accounts for "engaging in foreign and government interference." The operations originated in Georgia, Vietnam, and the U.S.
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Created to mislead
"Each of them created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," wrote Facebook in its statement. Before taking action, Facebook shared the accounts with New York-based Graphika and the Digital Forensic Research Lab.
The researchers released a report on their findings. They revealed that the campaign used artificially generated faces to spread pro-Trump and anti-Chinese government messages.
"We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these Pages, Groups, and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted," wrote Facebook.
Facebook further noted that the basis of their action was that the people behind this activity used fake accounts and misrepresented themselves. The social media platform revealed that it removed 39 Facebook accounts, 344 Pages, 13 Groups, and 22 Instagram that originated in the country of Georgia. It also removed 610 accounts, 89 Facebook Pages, 156 Groups, and 72 Instagram accounts that originated in Vietnam and the U.S.
The first campaign was linked to Panda, an advertising agency in Georgia, and the Georgian Dream-led government, while the second was traced back to The BL, a US-based media company and U.S.-based Epoch Media Group. Both of the campaigns invested significant amounts in advertising.
The first put in less than $316,000 in spending for "ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for in US dollars," while the second put in less than $9.5 million. The content they sought to promote touched on issues such as "impeachment, conservative ideology, political candidates, elections, trade, family values and freedom of religion."