Facebook removes Nigerian, Ghanaian pages for inauthentic behaviour from Russia targeting America

Social media platform, Facebook said it has removed 49 Facebook accounts, 69 Pages and 85 Instagram accounts for engaging in foreign interference, which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign actor on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.

Facebook claimed that this network was in the early stages of building an audience and was operated by local nationals, some wittingly and some unwittingly, in Ghana and Nigeria on behalf of individuals in Russia. The platform stressed that the target was primarily the United States.

Head of Security Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, in a post made available to The Guardian, yesterday, explained that the people behind this network engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts, some of which had already been disabled by automated systems to manage pages posing as non-government organizations or personal blogs, and post in groups.

Gleicher said those involved frequently posted about US news and attempted to grow their audience by focusing on topics like black history, black excellence and fashion, celebrity gossip, news and events related to famous Americans like historical figures and celebrities and LGBTQ issues.

Although the people behind this attempted to conceal their purpose and coordination, Gleicher said Facebook’s investigation found links to EBLA, an NGO in Ghana, and individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA). The NGO also operates in Nigeria.

Checks by The Guardian showed that there were about 27 million people in Nigeria on Facebook, with 62 per cent being men. Ghana has seven million users of the platform. Gleicher disclosed that about 13,500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 265,000 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts (about 65% of which were in the US). In terms of advertising, Gleicher said less than $5 was spent on ads focused on people in the US, none of which were political or issue ads.

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