Facebook Deletes User Accounts Run By IRA

Adam Schiff says Russians weaponized the social media platform.

Facebook deactivates IRA accounts
Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP Images

Adam Schiff says Russians weaponized the social media platform.

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Congress that the social media platform will take a broader view of its responsibilities as a company. As promised, Facebook this month made a series of changes to its algorithm to create more ad transparency and tackle fake news. The company also shut down fake accounts.

With a focus on Kremlin interference, the company deactivated 70 Facebook accounts, 65 Instagram accounts, and 138 Facebook Pages controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). These accounts targeted people living in Russia or Russian-speakers in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. As per Facebook findings, the IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of fake user accounts to manipulate people in the U.S., Europe, and Russia.

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff published the 3,000 ads the IRA ran on Facebook and Instagram between 2015 and 2017. House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff said that as the investigation progresses, Congress, besides Facebook, will continue to work with other tech companies to expose additional content, advertisements, and information. He reiterated that the Russians weaponized Facebook and sought to harness American people’s frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters to influence their thinking, voting, and behavior.

“This was accomplished by engaging in online communities built around common interests and that appeared organic and American, but were actually run by a troll farm in St. Petersburg,” he said in a press statement.

Since November 2017, Congress has worked closely with the social media giant.

“The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes, and imagery the Russians used to divide us,” Schiff said.

In September, Facebook found 470 accounts linked to the IRA that purchased ads on Facebook. The disclosure triggered public outrage that culminated in testimony by representatives from Facebook.

Last month, during the Senate Intelligence Hearing, Zuckerberg said that the social media giant is locked in an “arms race” with Russia.

“There are people in Russia whose job is to exploit our systems,” Zuckerberg said. “This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better,” he said.