Facebook takes down French, Russian networks targeting African nations

Facebook takes down French, Russian networks targeting African nations
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Facebook announced Tuesday that it has taken down three distinct networks that targeted a number of African nations for violating the platform’s policy on coordinated inauthentic behavior.

One of the takedowns marked the first time that Facebook has singled out individuals linked to a Western government or military. That network involved people affiliated with the French military meddling in politics in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali.  

The platform did not find evidence that the French military itself had directed the action. 

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The French network included 84 Facebook accounts, 14 Instagram accounts and a handful of pages and groups.

The network posed as Africans supportive of French military action in the region, while also sharing political commentary about former colonial nations. 

The two other networks identified Tuesday were tied to Russians, including some people previously affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, which gained notoriety for its interference in the 2016 American presidential election.

One of the networks focused on the CAR while the other centered on Libya, Sudan and Syria.

The two groups of networks sometimes clashed, including over the upcoming Dec. 27 election in the Central African Republic.

“Facebook’s takedown marks a rare exposure of rival operations from two different countries going head to head for influence over a third country,” Graphika wrote in a joint report with the Stanford Internet Observatory on the removals.