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Facebook removes hundreds of accounts, pages linked to Russia

Facebook Inc. removed hundreds of pages, groups and accounts that may have been involved in "coordinated inauthentic behavior."

In a Jan. 17 blog post, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the company identified two Russian-linked campaigns that were intended "to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing" on the platforms for Facebook and Facebook's Instagram Inc. unit.

One of the operations was tied to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, and the other was part of a network operated in Ukraine.

The Sputnik-linked operation included 364 pages and accounts that were operated in the Baltics, central Asia, the Caucasus and central and Eastern European countries. The page administrators and account owners presented themselves as independent news pages or general interest pages on topics such as weather, travel and economics, Facebook said.

For the second operation, Facebook removed 107 Facebook pages, groups and accounts as well as 41 Instagram accounts, based on an initial tip from U.S. law enforcement.

Facebook said it has shared information about the investigation with U.S. law enforcement and Congress as well as other technology companies and policymakers in the impacted countries.

"While we are making progress rooting out this abuse, as we've said before, it's an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well funded," Gleicher wrote.

Facebook has purged numerous accounts for similar reasons recently.