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Facebook, Twitter remove Russia-linked accounts operating from Ghana targeting US

Facebook and Twitter said on Thursday they had taken down a network of Russian-linked fake accounts operated out of Ghana and Nigeria which targeted the United States.
Facebook and Twitter said on Thursday they had taken down a network of Russian-linked fake accounts operated out of Ghana and Nigeria which targeted the United States. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In this latest takedown, which was relatively small, the companies removed 49 Facebook accounts, 69 Facebook pages, 85 Instagram accounts, and 71 Twitter accounts.

Facebook and Twitter said on Thursday they had taken down a network of Russian-linked fake accounts operated out of Ghana and Nigeria which targeted the United States.

Facebook told reporters that the network, which it removed from Facebook and Instagram for engaging in foreign interference, was in the early stages of building audiences and was operated by local nationals, some wittingly and some unwittingly, on behalf of individuals in Russia.

Facebook said its investigation found links to an NGO in Ghana called EBLA, or "Eliminating Barriers to the Liberation of Africa," and individuals associated with past activity by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St Petersburg-based "troll factory" that US intelligence officials say aimed to interfere in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

The accounts in the new takedown managed Facebook pages posing as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or personal blogs, or posting in Facebook groups. They focused on topics such as black history, black excellence and fashion, celebrity gossip, US news and LGBTQ issues. They also shared negative content about oppression and police brutality.

A CNN investigation found that accounts in Ghana and Nigeria claimed they belonged to people in the United States such as in Brooklyn or New Orleans. One account posed in a Facebook group as the cousin of an African American who died in police custody.

"This activity did not appear to focus on elections, or promote or denigrate political candidates," Facebook said in a blog post.

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