Facebook removes 200 accounts tied to conservative youth group Turning Point USA

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on October 09, 2020 Published on October 09, 2020

Facebook this month has removed 200 accounts, 55 Pages and 76 Instagram accounts related to a United States conservative political youth group Turning Point USA for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior.

The accounts were taken down after Facebook began an investigation following a report by Washington Post. The social media giant further flagged a US-based marketing firm working on behalf of the organisation to coordinate this ‘troll farm’ activity.

“We began our investigation after public reporting about some elements of this activity by the Washington Post,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this activity to Rally Forge, a US marketing firm, working on behalf of Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group. Rally Forge is now banned from Facebook. We are continuing to investigate all linked networks, and will take action as appropriate if we determine they are engaged in deceptive behavior,” it said.

According to Facebook, the network used fake accounts to comment on other people’s content. These comments were mainly posted on news articles posted by news organisations and public figures.

“These comments included topics like trophy or sport hunting in the US and Kenya, the midterm elections in 2018, the 2020 presidential election, Covid-19, criticism of the Democratic party and presidential candidate Joe Biden, and praise of President Trump and the Republican party,” Facebook said.

Most recently, the network had been active on Pages of the Washington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and The New York Times.

The network which is likely to have begun its operations in 2018, and was dormant until June 220. It appeared to have started its operations again in light of the upcoming US Presidential Elections.

The Pages associated to the network overall had garnered nearly 373,000 followers on Facebook. On Instagram, the accounts linked to this activity had around 22,000 followers in total.

Facebook estimated that the network had spent nearly $973,000 for ads on Facebook and Instagram.

“This includes the entirety of advertising activity by both inauthentic and authentic accounts removed as part of this network,” Facebook said.

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Published on October 09, 2020
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