Facebook said it has removed a network of accounts from Russia that the company linked to a marketing firm which aimed to enlist influencers to push anti-vaccine content about the COVID-19 vaccines, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, Facebook said it has banned accounts connected to Fazze, a subsidiary of UK-registered marketing firm AdNow, which primarily conducted its operations from Russia, for violating its policy against foreign interference.
Facebook posted information on its Newsroom that included a Summary of July 2021 Findings.
…In July, we removed two networks from Russia and Myanmar. In this report, we’re also sharing an in-depth analysis by our threat intelligence team into one of the operations – a network from Russia linked to Fazze, a marketing firm registered in the UK – to add to the public reporting on this network’s activity across a dozen different platforms…
Facebook removed 79 Facebook accounts, 13 Pages, eight Groups, and 19 Instagram accounts in Myanmar that targeted domestic audiences and were linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military.
Facebook also removed 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts from Russia that Facebook linked to Fazze, whose operations were primarily conducted from Russia. Fazze is now banned from Facebook’s platform.
The BBC reported that the accounts in the network spread memes that used images from the Planet of the Apes films to give the impression that the vaccine would turn people into monkeys.
Reuters pointed out that false claims and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and its vaccines have proliferated on social media in recent months. Major tech firms like Facebook have been criticized by U.S. lawmakers and President Joe Biden’s administration, who say the spread of online lies about vaccines is making it harder to fight the pandemic.
Personally, I think it is good that Facebook finally got around to removing (some) misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Doing so could encourage people who are vaccine-hesitant to consider protecting themselves and their loved ones by getting the vaccine. That won’t happen if all they see on Facebook is misinformation.