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 ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp 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 PalloneHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Overnight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp 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 TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' 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.