At first blush, it sounds like your everyday social media activism. A progressive Facebook page called “Resisters” has been organizing a large protest, which will take place in the nation’s capital next month. The event, “No Unite the Right 2 – DC,” is ostensibly meant as a counter-protest to the far-right’s “Unite the Right” rally taking place in the same city. What better way for concerned citizens to confront racism and xenophobia and make their voices heard?
Except Facebook says this counter-protest was organized not by actual concerned citizens, but by inauthentic “bad actors” whose main purpose was probably to sow discord and undermine American politics.
“Resisters” was one of 32 Facebook and Instagram accounts that Facebook said it removed today after discovering they were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” activity that included sharing politically charged memes, organizing events, paying third parties to run ads on their behalf, and recruiting unwitting Facebook page administrators to help spread various messages.
The company says it does not know who was behind the effort, but it says some of the behavior was consistent with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian-based troll farm behind a sprawling disinformation campaign that wreaked havoc during the 2016 election.
In a blog post today, Facebook said it discovered eight Facebook pages, 17 profiles, and seven Instagram accounts that violate its ban on coordinated inauthentic behavior. It said it identified the first of them two weeks ago.
In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages, Facebook said. In addition to “Resisters,” Facebook said the pages with the most followers included “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” and “Mindful Being.” The accounts created some 9,500 organic posts and ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram.
You can read the full blog post here.