Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Facebook removed dozens of accounts it says were part of a troll farm pretending to be African-Americans in support of President Donald Trump and QAnon supporters, the company said, for violating its policies against coordinated inauthentic behavior.
According to a report on its July enforcement activity, Facebook removed 35 Facebook accounts, three pages and 88 Instagram accounts for “violating our policy against foreign interference, which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign entity.” Activity by the pro-Trump network originated in Romania, Facebook said, and posted on Instagram using hashtags such as “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump.” The pages had about 1,600 followers on Facebook, and about 7,200 people followed the Instagram accounts.
Facebook described the network in its report:
The people behind this network used fake accounts — some of which had already been detected and disabled by our automated systems — to pose as Americans, amplify and comment on their own content, and manage Pages including some posing as President Trump fan Pages. This network posted about US domestic news and events, including the upcoming November election, the Trump campaign and support for the campaign by African Americans, conservative ideology, Christian beliefs, and Qanon. They also frequently reposted stories by American conservative news networks and the Trump campaign.
Facebook also removed several hundred fake accounts connected to conservative media organization Epoch Media Group, which it says spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. That network included 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups and 31 Instagram accounts, which had a combined 2 million followers.
According to Facebook’s report, the fake accounts were connected to TruthMedia, a digital outlet it has banned from the platform. In addition to misinformation about the coronavirus and protests in the US, the accounts pushed various conspiracy theories.