A network of Facebook groups supporting Donald Trump and pushing right-wing causes — highlighted by the popular group “Police Lives Matter” — has been taken down after the social media company learned that the groups were run out of Kosovo.
As Newsweek reported, the network included a number of sites that support the police and appear to be a reaction against the “Black Lives Matter” movement. The group “Police Lives Matter” was particularly popular, sporting more than 170,000 followers and sharing provocative content.
The network of sites also pulled in traffic surpassing some major news websites and snagged other non-political traffic by sharing viral content and funny videos. Aside from the more political pages, the network also included pages called “Happy Animal Club” and “3-Minute Animal Stories,” the report noted.
Facebook came under fire in the wake of the 2016 election, when it was revealed that Russia’s effort to interfere in the American election focused heavily on spreading misinformation on the social media site and pretending to represent U.S. political factions. These messages were often aimed at police activities, as the Russian interference campaign ran pages that both supported and opposed police officers, often targeting black voters and encouraging them not to participate in the presidential election by promoting distrust of the government.
Facebook implemented a number of new security measures aimed at preventing political interference but has struggled at times to stop these efforts.
Last year, House Democrats released more than 3,500 examples of Facebook ads purchased by Russians during the 2016 presidential election, The Inquisitr reported. Like the “Police Lives Matter” group taken down this week, the majority did not explicitly support a candidate but instead aimed at promoting political divisions, all with a larger goal of helping to get Donald Trump elected.
Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, addressed the Russian tactics in a corporate blog post made in September 2017.
“The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate. Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”
Other countries have been involved in pushing divisive and sometimes fabricated news to American audiences. During the 2016 election, a series of websites pushing false stories arose from Macedonia, reportedly pulling in thousands of dollars — and sometimes much more — from advertising revenue.