Facebook said they have removed hundreds of accounts posing as African-Americans in support of President Trump and QAnon supporters.
The social media outlet said they also removed hundreds of fake accounts allegedly linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times.
NBC reports that Facebook took down the accounts as part of their enforcement against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on social media.
The “troll farm” was based in Romania according to reports and had accounts on Instagram under names like “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and on Facebook under “We Love Our President.”
Facebook stressed that the takedowns were based on “behavior, not content,” like breaking rules against creating fake accounts to boost engagement on some pieces of content.
Researchers at the Atlantic Council found that many of the troll farm’s posts came from a persona called “David Adrian,” which used a stolen profile photo and claimed to be living in both Romania and Montana. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have since removed multiple accounts for the David Adrian persona.
A separate troll operation, tied to pro-Trump media organization Epoch Media Group, featured 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups and 31 Instagram accounts, which were followed by more than 2 million people across both services. Epoch Media Group is the parent company of the newspaper The Epoch Times. The accounts were tied to a digital media outlet called TruthMedia, which Facebook says it has banned from its services.
Facebook has twice taken action against Epoch Times-related content, most recently for its use of AI-generated, deepfake-style profile pictures on fake accounts that pushed Epoch Times stories and talking points. Gleicher said that the news Epoch Media Group-related fake accounts primarily used stock photos and not AI-generated photos for profile pictures.
Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising on its platform last year after it purchased ads under account names like “Honest Paper” and “Pure Honest Journalism” to get around the social network’s ad review systems. At the time, The Epoch Times was the largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook outside of the Trump campaign.
An example of the new Epoch Media-related takedown provided by Facebook showed an account called “Truth14” pushing a meme about a baseball player who didn’t kneel during the national anthem, part of the accounts’ strategy to push pro-Trump culture war messaging.“This guy is going to need a lot of support because the mob is coming for him and his family,” the post reads. “‘MLB’ is ‘BLM’ spelled backwards.”
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