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Meta Blocks ‘Inauthentic’ Pages, Groups From Russia and China

(Bloomberg) -- Meta Platforms Inc. has blocked thousands of “inauthentic” accounts, pages and groups from Facebook and Instagram that originated in Russia and spread propaganda about that country’s war with Ukraine.

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The network of accounts, which started in May, “criticized Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, praised Russia and argued that Western sanctions on Russia would backfire,” the social media giant said Tuesday. The group behind the accounts created 60 websites “carefully impersonating legitimate news organizations in Europe,” Meta said.

The move represents Meta’s latest attempt to beat back propaganda and misinformation on its services. The company, known as Facebook until a name change last year, has more than 3.6 billion users across its social media and messaging platforms -- a lineup that also includes WhatsApp.

The Russian group blocked by Meta had spread news articles online and -- in some instances -- paid Facebook or Instagram to promote them. The company made around $105,000 in advertising revenue from the ads, executives say. That money won’t be returned, but instead be used to pay for Meta’s growing security teams.

The company also removed a much smaller network of accounts originating in China. That group targeted US users, people in the Czech Republic, and some other Chinese- and French-speaking audiences. The campaign had far less scope -- fewer than 100 total accounts, pages and groups -- and persuaded fewer than 300 total users to follow them.

The accounts posted content that touched on both sides of the political spectrum in the US. “This was the first Chinese network we disrupted that focused on US domestic politics ahead of the midterm elections,” the company said.

As a policy, Meta blocks networks of accounts that are meant to mislead users about the true identity of the people operating them.

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