Facebook announced on Tuesday that it had removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram for "coordinated inauthentic behavior," which they suspect is connected to a Russian disinformation group involved in meddling with the U.S. elections. But while the popular narrative is that the Russians have been working to promote Trump, Facebook revealed in briefings on Capitol Hill that some of the pages were busy promoting the #Resistance and progressive causes.
In briefings on Capitol Hill, Facebook has told lawmakers that it suspects a Russian group is behind more than 30 pages advocating US political stances, according to a congressional source briefed on the matter. One page promoted a "No Unite the Right 2" march — a counter demonstration to a planned "Unite the Right" event to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the march in Charlottesville in which a woman was killed. There was also an effort to amplify the "Abolish ICE" message pushed by liberals, the source said. ...
Facebook said the "Resisters" page, which organized the "No Unite the Right 2" event, recruited real activists who "unwittingly helped build interest in" the event" and posted information about transportation, materials, and locations so people could get to the protests."
The Daily Mail provided some screenshots from the since-deleted "Resisters" page:
Some of the events the fake group helped organize were attended by real members of the Resistance. The same thing also occurred on both sides of the ideological spectrum during the election year, when suspected Russian-run ads pushed events and memes promoting both presidential candidates and a wide array of divisive issues.
Facebook has underscored that it is not certain that all of the pages and accounts — 8 Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and 7 Instagram accounts — were created by the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency, the "troll farm" which was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the election. However, the "coordinated inauthentic behavior" of the accounts suggests a connection.
Here is an excerpt of the announcement posted by Facebook Tuesday which provides more details on the deleted accounts and pages:
About two weeks ago we identified the first of eight Pages and 17 profiles on Facebook, as well as seven Instagram accounts, that violate our ban on coordinated inauthentic behavior. We removed all of them this morning once we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with US law enforcement agencies, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, a research organization that helps us identify and analyze abuse on Facebook.
- In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.
- The most followed Facebook Pages were “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.
- There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook, and one piece of content on Instagram.
- They ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.
- The Pages created about 30 events since May 2017. About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending. The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend.