Facebook said Tuesday it has taken down a network of accounts associated with a Russian troll farm that hired U.S. journalists to write articles targeting left-leaning readers.
The social media platform announced it took down 13 accounts that it attributed to “individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency” after receiving a tip from the FBI.
The accounts were directing people to a news site called Peace Data, a “global news organization” that’s focused largely on the environment and corporate and political corruption. Though the company, which launched this year, recruited some real journalists, several accounts that posed as “editors” were not real.
One account shared a story about the boogaloo movement with the headline “USA Far Right is Growing Thanks to President TrumpDonald TrumpHeadaches intensify for Democrats in Florida Stormy Daniels set to testify against former lawyer Avenatti in fraud trial Cheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll MORE."
Graphika, a network analysis firm based in New York that received the Facebook data in advance, published a report Tuesday that found that the Russian effort was small but mirrored previous attempts to undermine support for Democratic Party candidates by appealing to left-wing U.S. voters.
“The English-language content on Biden and Harris was noteworthy for its hostile tone,” Graphika reported. “One article by a guest writer accused the pair of ‘submission to right-wing populism ... as much about preserving careers as it is winning votes.' ”
Ahead of both the 2016 and 2018 elections, Russian operatives tied to the Internet Research Agency ran disinformation campaigns on Facebook and other social media platforms.
In August, top U.S. counterintelligence officials reported that Russia is using a range of measures to "primarily denigrate" Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, while China, meanwhile, would prefer that President Trump not win reelection.