January 17, 2019  |  Updated January 25, 2019

Facebook’s Sputnik Takedown — in Depth

By Nika Aleksejeva, Kanishk Karan, Donara Barojan and Ben Nimmo

Facebook removed almost 300 pages from its platform for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” across the former-Soviet space on January 17, 2018. The pages masqueraded as groups with special interests — ranging from food to support for authoritarian presidents — and amplified content from the Kremlin’s media agency, Rossiya Segodnya, especially that of its subordinate online news outlet Sputnik.

The pages represented a systematic, covert attempt to improve Rossiya Segodnya’s online audience across more than a dozen countries. Some had little impact, but others racked up tens of thousands of followers. Sputnik was the main beneficiary, as it was often the only source the Facebook pages amplified.

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