Facebook removes fake accounts that tried to stir hate and political division in the UK and Romania

  • Facebook says it discovered a network of people operating fake accounts in the U.K. to spread hate speech and political division.
  • It says it also found both fake and real accounts in Romania spreading posts in support of the country's Social Democratic Party.
  • Facebook says one page in the U.K. was followed by about 175,000 users, while an Instagram account had gained 4,500 followers.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Facebook says it removed fake accounts that spread articles, videos and memes aimed at inciting hate and political division in Britain and Romania.

The social media giant said in a blog post Thursday evening on its blog that it took down 137 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups in the U.K., and another 31 Facebook accounts, pages and groups in Romania.

Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the platform discovered a network of people operating fake accounts in the U.K. to "engage in hate speech and spread divisive comments on both sides of the political debate."

Meanwhile, in Romania, the company said it found both fake and real accounts on the platform spreading posts in support of the country's Social Democratic Party (PSD). Some of the accounts had ties to an individual associated with the PSD, Facebook said.

The firm shared examples of the posts being circulated. One post in Britain criticized Gerard Batten, the leader of the pro-Brexit U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), for calling Islam a "death cult," while another said people on the left of the political spectrum "don't have to know anything."

A Facebook post shared by a fake account in the U.K.
Facebook
A Facebook post shared by a fake account in the U.K.
A Facebook post shared by a fake account in the U.K.
Facebook
A Facebook post shared by a fake account in the U.K.

In terms of how influential the fake accounts were, Facebook said one page in the U.K. had been followed by about 175,000 users, while an Instagram account had gained 4,500 followers.

Facebook has been increasingly transparent about the way it finds and takes down social media influence campaigns, after accusations it had not done enough to prevent such behaviour during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit vote.

The firm said it took down hundreds of fake pages and accounts linked to Russian operations in January, and in November last year it said blocked more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts with ties to a Russian troll farm trying to influence the U.S. midterm elections.