Facebook finds pro-Trump group helped make hundreds of accounts to spam comments with attacks on Biden
Charlie Kirk, Founder and Exec. Dir. Of Turning Point USA, speaking on the first day of the Republican National Convention (Getty)
Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts affiliated with the right group Turning Point USA. This has hired a now banned marketing group to flood comment areas with messages to attack Joe Biden and Democrats and to praise Donald Trump.
The social media company announced on Thursday that marketing firm Rally Forge has partnered with Turning Point USA to create 200 profiles and 55 pages on the platform and 76 on Instagram, starting in 2018 and running through 2020.
Facebook said the accounts violated the company's guidelines on “coordinated fake behavior,” which relied “on real people, not automation” to create “the perception of widespread support for their narrative by adding comments on posts left by media companies and public figures ".
Approximately 373,000 people followed one or more of these pages, and 22,000 people followed on or more of these Instagram accounts.
Many accounts were made up of stock profile photos posing as right-wing users. The company found that in 2018, some of these accounts posed as left-wing users.
That activity mainly focused on commenting on news articles posted by news organizations and public figures rather than posting their own content, "the company said in a statement on its blog. "His electoral behavior began ahead of halftime in 2018 and then remained largely dormant until June 2020."
Recent activity has included what the company calls "thinly veiled personas," which are "minor variations in the names of the people behind them whose only activity on our platform was related to this misleading campaign."
"We believe this change in tactic is likely due to the fact that most of the fake accounts on this network are being captured by our automated detection systems," the company said.
At least one report encouraged false allegations about postal ballot papers as the president and his allies continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, while advocates of voting rights condemned Republicans' efforts to suppress votes in the US.
Facebook has banned Rally Forge from its platforms, while Turning Point USA is still active with nearly 2 million followers.
The organization's founder, Charlie Kirk, was the first speaker at the 2020 Republican National Congress.
In June, the president addressed a rally at a mega-church in Phoenix hosted by the group.
Facebook's latest move follows September Washington Post reporting that a "secret campaign" to sow disinformation about the 2020 elections was being carried out on "troll farms" by conservative Turning Point USA. In response to his coverage, Twitter banned several accounts allegedly involved in similar efforts.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that the company would temporarily block US political ads on its platforms if the polls close on election day.
Facebook also said it would "remove calls to people to take polls if those calls are using militarized language, or suggest that the aim is to intimidate, control, or show power" to election officials or voters for the President's Campaign Request "every capable man and woman to join the army in Trump's electoral security operation."
In the event that the president, who appeals to large audiences on social media platforms, declares victory before the results are collected, the company said it would provide notifications to Facebook and Instagram users with the latest results on election night send.
The company "will add more specific information to notifications that counting is still ongoing and a winner has not been determined," it said.
When the polls are closed, the company places labels on candidates' posts, which direct people to Facebook's Voting Information Center.
This week the company put in place a platform-wide ban on QAnon-related groups, sites, and profiles in an attempt to bring its conspiracy movement policy closer to that of “militarized social movements” such as terrorist groups.
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