Facebook takes down pro-Trump pages with reported Ukraine links

The social media giant said it had taken down "I Love America" and related pages

Reuters September 25, 2019
Small toy figures are seen in front of Facebook logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Facebook has removed a group of pages on its platform reportedly linked to Ukraine which featured US patriotic messages and praise for President Donald Trump, with posts seen by millions of users.

The social media giant said in an email Tuesday it had taken down "I Love America" and related pages "for violating our policies against spam and fake accounts, and are continuing to investigate for any further violations."

The move came a day after an investigation published by the left-leaning news site Popular Information which said the page was registered to Ukrainian media strategist Andriy Zyuzikov and regularly posted pro-Trump themes and a considerable amount of misinformation.

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The messages ranged from innocuous posts such as "Everyone should respect and stand for our American Flag" to fake statements, including one saying Hillary Clinton had sold her email access to foreign governments.

According to analytics cited by Popular Info, the I Love America page had 1.1 million fans and more than nine million interactions over the past three months -- more than news sites such as BuzzFeed and the Los Angeles Times.

Facebook so far has not found any links from the page to "state actors" but made a decision to block the operation because of spam and so-called clickbait which violate its policies.

The news report said the page was recycling hoaxes and false information used by Russia's Internet Research Agency as part of efforts to manipulate voters in the 2016 US election.

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Related pages also removed included names such as "Cute or Not?" and "God bless Donald and Melania Trump and God bless America," which according to Popular Info were also controlled from Ukraine and posted similar messages.

The move comes with Facebook and other platforms under pressure to curb misinformation and efforts by state-controlled entities to interfere in elections of other countries.


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