Facebook announced today it has removed 138 pages, along with 70 Facebook accounts and 65 Instagram accounts, all controlled by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA). A large number of ads run on Facebook by the agency were also found and removed. According to Facebook, the majority of these pages were written in the Russian language, and were designed to appeal to Russian speakers, including those living in Russia and neighboring countries, and Russian speakers abroad.
Facebook's content is meant to be user-driven and always authentic, with one of the cardinal rules of the platform being each human user or business entity should have only a single page. The IRA allegedly disobeyed this rule on a massive scale, setting up a large number of fake pages. Thus, Facebook decided to ferret out these pages and related content, then do away with all of them. The wipe was indiscriminate of what kind of content may be served by the pages or accounts in question, in much the same way that a wipe of multiple accounts from a single human user would be. In fact, a lot of the content could arguably be deemed fairly harmless, such as Russian tourism and culture. All the same, the IRA has been accused of using fake pages to manipulate users in the past.
This is part of Facebook's ongoing efforts to fight fake news and deceptive content. Since the accusations leveled at the IRA are so far-reaching Facebook has decided to not allow the organization to have a foothold on the platform at all, regardless of the content found on individual pages. As such, Facebook will be sharing more content raided from IRA-related pages and accounts in the coming weeks, and will also be updating its Help Center to allow users to see if they had any relations with such content, and if so, what content or pages. The platform is essentially taking deceptive and fraudulent content producers to task, even if they happen to be major government organizations.