Facebook removed hundreds of accounts that were posing as Black supporters of #DonaldTrump.
On Thursday, the social media platform disbanded hundred of accounts that were posing as Black American QAnon and #Trumpsupporters. In addition, Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts that were connected to The Epoch Times, a conservative media outlet that posted pro-Trump propaganda about the coronavirus and protests in the country, NBC News reports.
The move comes as the social medium attempts to combat coordinated inauthentic behavior, which includes fake accounts being made with the purpose of pushing the accessibility of certain content and products on social media, according to NBC News. These groups of fake accounts are referred to as troll farms, which are groups of people who work together to manipulate the internet with troll accounts, which can be outsourced or bought by foreign governments or businesses. Some of those foreign entities use fake accounts to promote or push political ideas and agendas.
Facebook’s head of security, Nathaniel Gleicher said the troll farm’s intentions were vague and that he didn’t see “clear evidence of financial motivation” or “clear links to known commercial actors in this space.” When the accounts were removed, Facebook said that the move was based on “behavior, not content.” The accounts posted about “ongoing U.S. protests and conspiracy theories about who is behind them,” Gleicher said. Some of the accounts also spread misinformation about COVID-19.
Atlantic Council researchers found that a lot of the troll farm’s posts came from a person called “David Adrian.” The account features a stolen profile picture, and in the bio, the person claimed to be someone who lives in Montana and Romania. Many of David’s accounts were taken down. Another troll farm was connected to a pro-Trump organization called Epoch Media Group. The farm included 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups, and 31 accounts, NBC reports. Epoch Media Group is the parent company of Epoch Times, which was tied to the digital media platform TruthMedia, and has since been banned from the site.
In response, Stephen Gregory, publisher of The Epoch Times’ English-language editions, said the company is not affiliated with TruthMedia. “The Epoch Times and Epoch Media Group are not in any way linked or related with ‘Truth Media,’ nor do we have any involvement in any operation of ‘Truth Media,'” he said in an email obtained by NBC News.