Facebook’s ‘Russia paranoia?’ Anti-white supremacist page deleted in ‘bad actor’ purge

Facebook’s ‘Russia paranoia?’ Anti-white supremacist page deleted in ‘bad actor’ purge
Facebook’s latest clampdown on ‘inauthentic’ political activity has seen it shut down pages belonging to activists arranging an anti-fascist event. The organizers responded in anger, accusing the social media giant of censorship.

Facebook’s latest clampdown on ‘inauthentic’ political activity has seen it shut down pages belonging to activists arranging an anti-fascist event. The organizers responded in anger, accusing the social media giant of censorship.

The social network announced it had removed 32 pages or accounts from both Facebook and Instagram on Tuesday because they were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

It said it doesn’t “have all the facts” surrounding the accounts, including who could be behind the actions of those “bad actors,” but deemed the accounts suspicious enough to delete.

Included in the ban was an event page for a protest taking place in Washington next weekend to counter a rally organized by Jason Kessler. Kessler was behind the Unite the Right march in Charlottesville last August where activist Heather Heyer was mowed down by white supremacist James Field.  

The ‘No Unite the Right 2’ event page was co-hosted by six activist groups, one of which, The Resisters, Facebook believes is suspicious. The activists behind the event expressed anger that their event had been deleted.

Solidarity Charlottesville released a statement slamming Facebook’s “overzealous censorship of anti-fascists.”

Shut it Down DC also responded with frustration. “We did not promote anyone’s views except our own,” it said, adding, “White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem.”

Black Lives Matter DC organizer April Goggins said the event was planned before the Facebook page was created. Although they’ve since set up a new page, activists fear their event will continue to be associated with being part of an alleged Russian ploy.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said “inauthentic” administrators of the Resisters page connected with administrators from five legitimate pages to co-host the event and enlist support from “real people.” He said the legitimate pages “unwittingly” helped build interest in the ‘No Unite Right2 – DC.’

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Andrew Batcher, an organizer for the Shut It Down DC coalition told ABC News the Resisters page had been controlled by a lot of “real people doing real work,” and that he saw no sign that the page’s administrator was a “bad actor.”

Facebook says it found some connections between the deleted accounts and those of the Internet Research Agency named in the February indictment of 13 Russians accused of running a social media trolling campaign.

The Atlantic Council think-tank is working with Facebook to police and flag content it deems suspicious. It claims the accounts that were removed were meant to promote division in the US.

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