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Facebook removes fake accounts and pages linked to Roger Stone

Facebook removed fake accounts linked to President Donald Trump’s former political advisor, Roger Stone, for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” 

The social network removed accounts and pages posing as Florida residents that were linked to the hate group the Proud Boys, according to Facebook. The fake accounts posted about local Florida politics, the hacked materials released by Wikileaks ahead of the 2016 election, and Stone’s books, trial, and websites. 

Even though Facebook said most of these accounts had been dormant since 2016, a total of 54 accounts, 50 pages, and four Instagram accounts were removed, all of which linked to Stone and his associates. Facebook said that about 260,000 users followed one or more of these pages. 

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“We’ve seen and taken action against domestic political figures using [coordinated inauthentic behavior] in the past, and we know they will continue to attempt to deceive and mislead people,” wrote Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy. “Domestic campaigns like these raise a particularly complex challenge by blurring the line between healthy public debate and manipulation.”

Facebook describes “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as “when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.” 

Facebook said it was able to identify the full scope of these fake accounts and pages because of the public release of search warrants in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Stone was convicted of seven felonies in November in connection with Mueller’s probe, including lying to protect Trump about the 2016 campaign’s efforts to reach WikiLeaks. 

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook to find out how it is planning to prevent, rather than spot, fake accounts like these as the election gets closer. We will update this story when we hear back. 

The removal of these pages come the same day as Facebook’s third and final civil rights audit was released. The 100-page review found that Facebook’s decision not to fact-check political posts has left its platform vulnerable to politicians’ misuse to interfere with voting and suppress civil rights. 

The audit’s authors called Facebook’s refusal to act against recent posts by Trump — that many competitors such as Twitter took down — a “tremendous setback for all of the policies that attempt to ban voter suppression.”

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