On Tuesday Facebook claimed it had closed two networks based in Russia and one linked to the French military. It accused them of carrying out interference campaigns in Africa.
According to the social media platform, those networks were running multiple Facebook accounts assigned to persons associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency, and the third had “links to individuals associated with French military.”
Facebook specified they were closed because of violation of its policy against foreign or government interference and added that the main targets of the networks were in north Africa and some in the Middle East, as France 24 reports.
The French military has not provided no immediate comment on the allegations.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, and David Agranovich, head of global threat disruption, said in a blog that the campaigns dueled with each other online.
“This was the first time our team found two campaigns – from France and Russia – actively engage with one another, including by befriending, commenting and criticising the opposing side for being fake,” they said.
Facebook stressed that the core part of networks’ operations to mislead public about who they are and what they are doing was fake accounts.
The French network, that is 84 Facebook accounts, 6 pages, 9 groups and 14 Instagram accounts, focused its attention on the Central African Republic and Mali, and, to a lesser extent, Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Chad.
Some of the posts [in French and Arabic] covered France’s policies in Francophone Africa, claims of Russian interference in CAR elections, comments on the French military and criticism of Russia.
As far as two Russian networks is concerned, Facebook removed 274 Facebook accounts and 18 Instagram accounts, a number of groups and pages.
Gleicher and Agranovich specified that they had provided the information about their findings to the law enforcement bodies.