Facebook actively deletes French and Russian accounts on African

Facebook announced this week that people with ties to Russia and the French military had used fake Facebook and Instagram accounts to secretly campaign in the Central African Republic ahead of elections this month.

Facebook He said hundreds of accounts and groups linked to France and Russia facing charges of “coordinated incompetence” in the CAR and other countries in Africa and the Middle East had been deleted.

Despite accusations that accounts belonging to Russia have repeatedly been involved in such activities, Facebook told the Associated Press that this is the first time action has been taken against a network linked to people associated with the Western government. It has taken action on networks that were previously affiliated with Western political parties.

At a time when both France and Russia are jockeying for influence in the region, Facebook’s move comes ahead of the December 27 election in the Central African Republic, which Facebook has identified as a major target of misinformation.

The company said its researchers had found French accounts “for people associated with the French military.” However, Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a statement that “we have not seen any evidence that the French military directed this action.”

The New York City-based social media analysis firm Graphica, which researched the accounts with Facebook, said it had not found any evidence of direct organizational involvement by the French government or the military.

The French military said in a statement to the Associated Press on Thursday that it “strongly condemns” such misinformation and is working with UN and European partners to bring peace to the CAR.

“We are examining the results (Facebook-graphica investigation), but at this stage, we cannot confirm any responsibility. There are many stakeholders in this fight, people and citizens, which makes it difficult to clearly assess the situation,” the statement said.

France was once a colonial power in the Central African Republic and neighboring countries, with Facebook also identified as a target. Interest in the region is also growing for Russian companies.

Facebook “removed networks for violating our policy against foreign or government interference, which is coordinated behavior (CIB) on behalf of a foreign or government agency.”

Russian officials did not comment publicly.

Facebook has ties to people linked to Russia’s Internet research agency in its investigation into allegations that the so-called troll form interfered in the 2016 US. Yevgeny Prigogin, a Russian businessman with ties to the election, and the Kremlin, has been charged by the US Justice Department. Prigogin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the troll form and its activities.

The U.S. Treasury Department has granted mining businesses and employees affiliated with Prigogen in the Central African Republic and said its business operations there are coordinated with the Russian government. In a statement published this week on Russian social networks in response to media questions, Prigogin said Facebook was a tool of US intelligence agencies and a “group of oligarchs” working to promote American interests around the world.

Facebook says it has removed the network of accounts that tried to interfere in the Central African Republic. Instagram Accounts, pages and groups targeted at users in many African and Middle Eastern countries COVID-19, Politics or military.

“Although we have seen that impact activities have previously targeted the same areas, this is the first time our team has found two campaigns from France and Russia that have been actively involved with each other,” it said in its report on Facebook networks.

In the Central African Republic, dual French and Russian demonic activities tried to confront each other with Facebook posts, and at some point tried to expose each other, according to a report by Grafica.

The Russian operation, conducted mainly in French, posted pro-Kremlin videos and praised the current president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Toudera, according to Graphica.

The French operation, meanwhile, is far from talking about the upcoming election in the posts. It was launched in May 2018 with a focus on security in the Central African Republic and Mali.

A Russian page promoting Todera has 50,000 followers. Meanwhile, a French group in the Central African Republic has 34 followers.

“Facebook’s withdrawal will seldom expose rival activities from two different countries to influence a third country,” Graphica said in a statement.

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