Another day, another bunch of pro-Trump Facebook accounts revealed to be fake. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
On Thursday, the social media giant announced it had removed 200 Facebook accounts, 55 Pages, and 76 Instagram accounts over the past week for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” At least some of those accounts and pages were spotted pushing messaging in favor of Donald Trump.
Of course, at least according to Facebook, there weren’t real people associated with the names and photos on the accounts. And, shocker, those fake accounts spewed the kind of misinformation and garbage — like lies about mail-in voting — that you’re probably used to seeing on Facebook.
“Many of these accounts used stock profile photos and posed as right-leaning individuals from across the US,” read the blog post in part. “These comments included topics like trophy or sport hunting in the US and Kenya, the midterm elections in 2018, the 2020 presidential election, COVID-19, criticism of the Democratic party and presidential candidate Joe Biden, and praise of President Trump and the Republican party.”
While Facebook doesn’t say who specifically ran the fake accounts, it does point a finger at the U.S. conservative group Turning Point USA.
“Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this activity to Rally Forge, a US marketing firm, working on behalf of Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group,” the blog post notes.
This is not the first time Facebook has pulled down a host of fake accounts linked to right-wing nonsense. In July, the company gave the boot to 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Facebook Pages, and four Instagram accounts tied to Roger Stone. In August, it removed yet another group of accounts that masqueraded as Black Trump supporters.
In other words, today’s action from Facebook has happened before and it will happen again.
After all, the type of garbage these fake-account networks push is fuel for the Facebook fire. As the Wall Street Journal reported in May, Facebook’s own internal research from 2018 showed the company’s algorithms are, at least in part, primed for controversy.
“Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” the Journal reported an internal Facebook presentation as explaining. Unless Facebook did something about it, continued the presentation, Facebook would present users with “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.”
So forgive yourself that feeling of déjà vu — this time, and the almost certain next time Facebook announces it’s once again removed a bunch of fake pro-Trump accounts.