Perhaps the most notable takedown was of a misinformation network made of 200 Facebook accounts, 55 Facebook pages and 76 Instagram accounts that focused on audiences in the United States and in Kenya and Botswana. Rather than posting inflammatory or misleading content of their own, the actors involved used accounts with stock images as profile pictures to comment on stories shared by news organizations and public figures.
“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,” Gleicher writes. Of the four misinformation networks the company shut down this month, this one had spent the most on ads by far. All told, $973,000 were spent across Facebook and Instagram, though Facebook was quick to note that at least some of that money came from “authentic” accounts. Still, that considerable sum suggests a larger benefactor at work, and Facebook quickly identified it: The network was linked to a US marketing firm called Rally Forge, working on behalf of the Inclusive Conservation Group and the conservative non-profit Turning Point USA.
Update (10/8, 2:46PM): Report Door has received a statement from Turning Point Action, a 501(c)(4) and advocacy group asserting that it, not Turning Point USA, was responsible for the comments in question. (Please note that, while the two parties are technically distinct, they both share a founder and have similar conservative agendas.)
“Facebook’s blog post in question was in reference to a project for Turning Point ACTION, a 501c4 and an entirely separate entity. The mistake has been flagged with Facebook’s communication team and should be rectified soon. Turning Point ACTION works hard to operate within social platforms’ TOS on all of its projects and communications and we hope to work closely with FB to rectify any misunderstanding. All questions regarding the activities of TP ACTION’s vendor, Rally Forge, should be directed to that company.”
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