Facebook Takes Down Pro-Trump Page Run By Ukrainians

REUTERS/Leah Millis

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  • Facebook removed a pro-Trump page created and operated by 10 Ukrainians after the daily newsletter Popular Information published an exposé detailing the page’s inauthenticity. 
  • The tech giant initially disputed claims that the page titled “I Love America,” which had over 1 million fans, violated its “coordinated inauthentic behavior” policy.
  • Popular Information found several other Ukrainian-run Facebook pages posing support for President Donald Trump and general patriotism that have been circulating memes used by the IRA in 2016.

Facebook removed a pro-Trump page with more than 1.1 million fans titled “I Love America” on Monday because it was being operated by Ukrainians, political newsletter Popular Information found.

The page was created in 2017 by Ukrainian online strategist Andriy Zyuzikov and operated by nine other Ukrainians, according to a Monday report from Popular Information.

“I Love America” had just recently started publishing more content in support of President Donald Trump in the last few weeks. Popular Information also found that the page displayed many references to “our country” and “our military.”

A Facebook spokesperson initially told Popular Information that its platform does not believe the “I Love America” page violates the company’s “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which it defines as “groups of pages or people” who “work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing” but added that it would continue investigating the matter.

Popular Information also noted how the “I Love America” page shared some of the same memes about patriotism and Jesus distributed by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the Russian organization that used social media in an attempt to influence to U.S. 2016 presidential election.

The page garnered more likes, comments and shares over the last three months than USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed, according to the Facebook-owned analytics company Crowdtangle.

And “I Love America” is only one example of these kinds of Ukrainian-operated, U.S.-politics-focused Facebook pages that have gained significant traction in the last couple of years.

Several other pages with names like “God bless Donald and Melania Trump and God bless America” and “Like our page if you are proud to be an American” and “Everyone should respect and stand for our American Flag. God Bless” cross-post the same patriotic, pro-Trump memes, even though they are all run by Ukrainians, the Popular Information report reads.

“We’re seeing state-linked operators trying harder to hide, reducing their linguistic footprint, masking their technical signals and covering up the identities of the people behind them,” social network analysis solution website Graphika’s director of investigations, Ben Nimmo, told Popular Information.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg promised that kind of activity would never happen again after the public caught wind of the IRA scandal. (RELATED: Facebook Removes Fake Accounts From Thailand, Ukraine And Honduras Pushing Political Propaganda)

“In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face. But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2018 blog post.

Facebook has removed plenty of other pages operated by foreign actors from Spain on Sept. 20, Iraq and Ukraine on Sept. 16, Mayanmar on Aug. 21, China on Aug. 19 and so on for coordinated inauthentic behavior.

“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” Facebook’s press releases regarding coordinated inauthentic behavior read.

“In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves,” the releases add.

Facebook did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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