The New York Times reported today that Facebook identified two disinformation campaigns originating from Russia — including one tied to an agency controlled by the Kremlin — that were targeted at users in Europe and Central Asia. Facebook said it had deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts that had posted the misleading messages.
The activity revealed by Facebook, which has been under pressure to more aggressively counter the spread of misinformation and manipulation, shows how Kremlin-linked groups continue to use the social network to spread misleading materials around the world.
Notable in this instance was the involvement of Sputnik, the Russian national news network aka propaganda organ. Along with RT (formerly Russia Today), Sputnik has played a big role in pushing the official Kremlin position to mass audiences across the world. Sputnik stories sometimes appear prominently in Google search results on topics where Russia is actively seeking to push disinformation, including their conflict with Ukraine, fracking, and election interference.