State Department praises Facebook for removing accounts behind disinformation effort

State Department praises Facebook for removing accounts behind disinformation effort
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The State Department on Wednesday lauded Facebook for removing several "inauthentic" accounts that it found were associated with a coordinated campaign to spread disinformation, and specifically called out Russia for its efforts to sow discord.

"We applaud Facebook’s decision to expunge accounts, orchestrated from abroad, that foment division and violence inside the United States," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"These efforts are part of a broader external campaign aimed at weakening America and threatening our way of life by pitting citizens against each other and sowing discord in general," she added. "We urge all technology companies to take an aggressive approach to this insidious problem. We demand that Russia and all other malign actors immediately cease this reckless behavior."

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Facebook announced Tuesday that it had removed 32 pages and accounts across its main platform and Instagram involved in "inauthentic behavior" after the company discovered them last week.

Facebook has briefed lawmakers on the matter, and has been working with the FBI. The company told lawmakers that the new efforts could have been conducted by Russia, but it has not confirmed that, The New York Times reported.

At least three of the events co-organized by one of the groups the company removed appear to have taken place and been attended by hundreds of people, according to a report by The Hill.

The revelation is likely to heighten concerns that foreign actors will target U.S. voters with influence campaigns ahead of November's midterms.

Praise for Facebook from the government has been rare of late.

The company faced intense criticism from lawmakers for the use of its platform by Russian bots, and for a privacy breach earlier this year in which Cambridge Analytica gained access to information from millions of users.