Facebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russia

Facebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russia

Facebook said Thursday that it has deleted a number of pages on its platform that were operated by Russian news agency Sputnik and promoted anti-NATO sentiment in eastern European countries.

The company wrote in a blog post that the pages were used to "mislead" users about the content's source and the pages' purposes. Facebook says it took down 364 pages that were operated by Russian employees of state news agency Sputnik in central and eastern Europe.

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More than 100 pages operated by Russian agents out of Ukraine were also taken down, based on a tip from U.S. law enforcement, the company said.

"The two operations we found originated in Russia, and one was active in a variety of countries while the other was specific to Ukraine," wrote Facebook's head of cybersecurity.

"We didn’t find any links between these operations, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," the post continued.

Facebook went on to explain that the company had evidence of coordination by Russian agents using fake accounts on the platform, which it said was the basis for removing the accounts and Sputnik's pages.

"In these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action," the company wrote.

The company has faced criticism from U.S. and foreign lawmakers in recent months over how it handles millions' of users' data. In December, Democratic lawmakers indicated to The Hill that Congress would seek future testimony from CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergTech companies must act to stop horrific exploitation of their platforms The Hill's Morning Report — Combative Trump aims at Pelosi before Russia report Hillicon Valley: White House rejects Dem request for AT&T merger docs | Apple, Qualcomm end massive court fight | Ecuador says it faced 40M cyberattacks after Assange arrest | SpaceX wins NASA contract to fly craft into asteroid MORE on Facebook's business model and how other tech companies are given access to user data on the platform.

“It appears that Facebook has not been honest with Congress or the public about how it treats its users’ data,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group House Democrats probe Trump administration's funding of anti-abortion group Overnight Energy: Bernhardt confirmed as Interior chief | Dems probing if EPA officials broke ethics rules | Senators offer bipartisan carbon capture bill MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said last month.

“Based on these revelations, I’m concerned that Facebook may have provided the Committee with inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading responses to our questions, and we’ll be following-up,” he added.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems demand Barr cancel 'inappropriate' press conference on Mueller report DOJ plans to release 'lightly redacted' version of Mueller report Thursday: WaPo Nadler accuses Barr of 'unprecedented steps' to 'spin' Mueller report MORE privately indicated multiple times in 2018 that he wanted the U.S. to withdraw from NATO.

The president reportedly made the comments around last July's alliance summit, where he roiled allies by criticizing Germany directly and questioning why other members did not spend more on defense. Trump said later that a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin went better than the NATO summit.