Africa is the newest sphere of illicit Russian Facebook activity

Facebook today said it has removed three groups of accounts, pages, and groups engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that were linked to Russia and targeted a number of countries in Africa.

The social media giant said that the network of accounts, pages, and groups were targeting Madagascar, Central African Republic, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sudan, and Libya.

“Although the people behind these networks attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation connected these campaigns to entities associated with Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who was previously indicted by the U.S. Justice Department,” Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher said in a blog post.

Prigozhin was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Facebook said it removed 35 accounts, 53 pages, seven groups, and five Instagram accounts linked to Russia that targeted Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon.

They posted about “global and local political news including topics like Russian policies in Africa, elections in Madagascar and Mozambique, election monitoring by a local non-governmental organization and criticism of French and U.S. policies.”

One of the examples offered by Facebook included a post about the president of the Central African Republic asking Vladimir Putin to organize the delivery of heavy weapons.

Around 475,000 people followed one or more of the pages, around 450 people followed one or more of those groups, and around 650 people followed one or more of those Instagram accounts, Facebook said. The networks spent around $77,000 in spending on ads on Facebook.

Facebook Africa Russia Accounts fbnewsroomus.files.wordpress.com

Additionally, the company said it removed 17 accounts, 18 pages, three groups and six Instagram accounts linked to Russia that focused on Sudan.

Those accounts had 457,000 people that followed one or more of the pages, around 1,300 accounts that joined at least one of the groups, and around 2,900 people that followed one or more of the Instagram accounts. In total, they spent around $160 in advertising on Facebook.

A network including 14 accounts, 12 pages, one group, and one Instagram account linked to Russia were also removed. Those accounts focused on Libya, the company said.

Around 212,000 accounts followed one or more of the pages, and around 29,300 accounts followed the Instagram account.

In August, both Twitter and Facebook announced that they had removed accounts linked to China attempting to sow discord amid the Hong Kong protests.

You can read all of Facebook’s blog post about the removal of the networks here.

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Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).