Facebook, Twitter Take Down Accounts Linked to Russian Interference

Facebook and Twitter both suspended a small network of accounts and pages belonging to a supposed media website Peace Data linked to Russian election interference.

Facebook  (FB) - Get Report and Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Report on Tuesday purged accounts and pages linked to a suspect media website called Peace Data for running deceptive campaigns linked to Russian bad actors, two months before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Facebook said it removed 13 accounts and two Facebook pages operated by Peace Data that were linked to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA). "In total, our team has found and removed about a dozen deceptive campaigns connected to individuals associated with the IRA," the company said as part of its August report on inauthentic behavior on its network. U.S. intelligence officials say the IRA was responsible for attempts to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

Meanwhile, Twitter suspended five accounts linked to Peace Data. "The Tweets from the Russian-linked accounts were low quality and spammy, and most Tweets from these accounts received few, if any, Likes or Retweets. The accounts achieved little impact on Twitter and were identified and removed quickly," the company said in a statement.

"Regardless of the low-level impact in this case, governments around the world must stop these practices. They’re anti-democratic. Attempts to manipulate our service to undermine democracy -- by both foreign and domestic actors -- will be met with strict enforcement of our policies," Twitter added.

Both platforms received information about the network's activity from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Facebook said that the people behind the activity relied on fake accounts -- some of which had already been detected and disabled by its automated systems -- to create elaborate fictitious personas, manage pages, post in Groups and drive people to their website, which presents itself as an independent news outlet based primarily in Romania. 

These personas operated across a number of internet services and used fake names and profile photos and posed as news editors from various countries, including the U.S. The individuals behind this campaign sought to obtain political advertising authorization to run ads in the U.S.

Shares of Facebook rose 0.76% to $295.44 on Tuesday while Twitter shares were up 1.4% to $41.15.

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