Facebook on Tuesday said it has taken down a Russian influence campaign that posed as an independent news outlet targeting progressive voters in the United States and Britain by recruiting freelance journalists to write about domestic politics.
The company said the operation centered around a pseudo media organization called 'Peace Data'. Its so-called "contributors" were mostly unwitting freelance journalists in the United States and Britain.
The writing it featured partly focused on U.S. politics and racial tensions in the run-up to the Nov. 3 presidential election.
"Their goal here from what we can see is the same as goals we've seen from Russian actors in the past. They're trying to drive division, they're trying to enflame tensions, and they're trying to undermine trust in the electoral process."
Facebook's Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher told Reuters on Tuesday the company is removing what they call a network of 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'.
Gleicher said his team acted on information provided by the FBI and suspended the accounts before they gathered a large online following. Only 14,000 people followed one or more of the suspended accounts.
"I think two of the most striking points about this network and this takedown are 1. we see these actors continuing to try to target public debate ahead of the U.S. 2020 elections, and 2. they're not having a lot of success."
The website published over 700 articles in English and Arabic between February and August this year, and operated 13 Facebook accounts and two pages, which were set up in May and suspended on Monday for using fake identities.
Facebook said its investigation found links to the Russian Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based company which U.S. intelligence officials say was central to Russian efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election.
Moscow has denied those allegations and says it does not interfere in the domestic politics of other countries.