Facebook has removed more than 200 accounts and pages linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company known for activating inauthentic accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, in the social media giant’s latest effort to stem the spread of “fake news” on its platform.
The company deleted 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook Pages linked to the IRA that had reached a total of 1.5 million users, according to a blog post from Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. The company also removed $167,000 worth of ads that had been purchased on both social networks, according to graphics released by Facebook.
“The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections,” Stamos wrote in the blog post, adding that Facebook would “remove every account” linked to the organization.
Most of the accounts and pages were in Russian language, targeting people who lived in Russia, Russian speakers living abroad or in neighboring countries such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, the blog post said.
In March, the IRA was among five Russian firms and 19 individuals hit with sanctions by the Trump administration for alleged election interference. In February, Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller also issued an indictment against the IRA, citing its efforts to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”