Social media giant Facebook has announced the suspension of 65 Instagram accounts, 138 Facebook pages and 70 Facebook accounts which are under the control of the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm linked to the Kremlin. This was announced by the chief security officer of the social network, Alex Stamos. Additionally the social media giant also got rid of ads that were linked to the troll farm.
Stamos also revealed that identifying the pages belonging to the Internet Research Agency took months. According to Stamos 95% of the accounts which have now been removed were in the Russian language and were aimed at either Russians or speakers of the language in neighboring countries such as Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. Since the beginning of 2015 the accounts and pages which have been taken down spent approximately $167,000 on ads.
Acts of deception and manipulation
The chief executive officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, also wrote in a post saying that the Russian troll farm deceived and manipulated people across the United States and Europe and the social media giant will not tolerate its activities on the platform.
After Facebook took down the pages and accounts, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, hailed the moved by the social media giant and added that more work needed to be done to counter the influence of the Internet Research Agency around the globe.
“Today’s disclosure of more IRA-linked accounts is evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division, spread disinformation, and influence political debates around the globe,” saidWarner.
EU data privacy laws
This comes in the wake of Zuckerberg telling Reuters that Facebook did not have any immediate plans of applying data privacy laws that are set to come into force in the European Union next month to other parts of the globe. In a telephone interview Zuckerberg said the social network was in compliance with regards to many sections of the EU law.
Known as GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation, the EU law on online privacy gives Europeans the right of knowing the data that has been collected about them and stored. It also empowers them to have that data deleted. Since the internet came into being, the GDPR is the biggest online privacy overhaul.
Other tech firms such as Apple have indicated that they intend to give U.S. citizens and residents as well as people in other parts of the world the same rights and protections that the Europeans will soon have.