Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has announced that it has shut down more than 1,600 fake social media accounts and about 60 bogus news websites in an effort to stop disinformation from being spread as Russian propaganda.
Facebook officials said it was the largest operation and most complex propaganda effort since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, The Associated Press reported.
The fake websites were set up to resemble legitimate ones such as The Guardian and Der Spiegel, but the sites had links to propaganda and disinformation about Ukraine.
The fake Facebook accounts spread propaganda to Germany, Italy, France, the U.K. and Ukraine.
The Russian actors paid more than $100,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads to spread their message, CNN reported.
The accounts were shut down before they reached a large audience, the AP reported, but the network of fake sites was active this summer. Meta officials said there was also a smaller network based in China that targeted the U.S. to spread disinformation but it did not gain much of a foothold. The posts had what the AP called clumsy English language mistakes and had posts published during Chinese working hours.
Meta vows to be on high alert watching for fake accounts and disinformation during the U.S. midterm elections, CNN reported.
Meta did not specify what groups were behind the disinformation networks, only that they were run out of China and Russia, CNN reported.
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