Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) took down accounts linked to Russian government actors who were allegedly trying to influence the United States presidential elections due to be held in November and plant fake stories on racial justice, the National Public Radio reported Tuesday.
What Happened: The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media platform removed 13 Facebook accounts and two pages related to Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), the company said in a report.
The Russian network’s activity largely revolved around amplifying a website called peacedata.net, which allegedly brandished itself as independent news media, according to Graphika, a social media analysis firm that assisted Facebook.
Graphika said that PeaceData co-opted freelance writers and created a cluster of fake personas to build a left-wing audience and “steer it away” from Joe Biden’s campaign.
Twitter removed five accounts and said it would block content associated with PeaceData. “Attempts to manipulate our service to undermine democracy — by both foreign and domestic actors — will be met with strict enforcement of our policies,” the company said, as per NPR.
Why It Matters: IRA is said to have targeted the campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to a criminal indictment filed by U.S. prosecutors.
Last month, Facebook said it acted against QAnon, Antifa, and other movements who it claimed “celebrated” violent acts.
Twitter announced new labels for government and state-affiliated media accounts last month including for editors-in-chief and senior staff of state-owned media. The platform said it would “no longer amplify” such accounts, or their tweets, through its recommendation systems.
The Jack Dorsey-led company last week said it took down three accounts for spreading disinformation related to African Americans abandoning Democratic party in favor of the Republicans.
Price Action: Facebook shares closed 0.76% higher at $295.44 and gained nearly 0.4% in the after-hours session.
On the same day, Twitter shares closed 1.4% higher at $41.15 and gained almost 0.2% in the after-hours session.