Facebook Takes Downs a Network of Accounts Tied to Roger Stone
By Dustin Volz
Facebook Inc. on Wednesday said it had removed a network of more
than 100 pages and accounts linked to Roger Stone, the longtime
confidant of President Trump, because it violated the company's
rules against coordinated inauthentic behavior.
Mr. Stone and his associates used fake Facebook and Instagram
accounts that were active since at least 2015 to promote media
appearances and amplify material related to the release of hacked
Democratic emails during the 2016 election by the antisecrecy group
WikiLeaks, Facebook said.
In total, four Facebook accounts, 50 Facebook pages and four
accounts on Instagram were removed, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's
head of security policy, said in a blog post. Some 260,000 accounts
followed one or more of the pages and about 61,500 people followed
one or more of these Instagram accounts, Mr. Gleicher said.
A lawyer for Mr. Stone didn't immediately respond to a request
for comment. Mr. Stone was convicted last year on charges of lying
to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of a congressional
proceeding. He was scheduled to begin serving a 40-month federal
prison sentence on July 14 but has asked an appeals court to delay
his reporting date over concerns about Covid-19.
The takedown was the latest high-profile attempt by Facebook to
combat inauthentic behavior by domestic users on its platform,
which is a violation of its policies. Facebook's policies on fake
activity have been under intense public and congressional scrutiny
since Russia used its platform as part of a multipronged cyber
operation to interfere in the 2016 election. Russia has denied any
More recently, independent researchers of social media have
highlighted how U.S.-based users also often manipulate the platform
in pursuit of political gain.
Graphika, a firm that investigates social-media disinformation,
said in a corresponding report released Wednesday that the network
of accounts associated with Mr. Stone worked to harass political
opponents and inflate his popularity and support during trial.
The bulk of activity from the accounts took place in 2016 and
2017, either close to or immediately after the presidential
election, Graphika said, though some of them were active into
"Much of the network's content focused on Roger Stone, praising
his political acumen, defending him against criminal charges, and
demanding that he be pardoned after he was found guilty of those
charges in November 2019," the report said.
Facebook also announced on Wednesday it had taken down three
other networks tied to foreign actors in different countries. One
of those networks was tied to employees who work for Brazilian
President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his family, though it
wasn't clear if Mr. Bolsonaro had any involvement or awareness of
Byron Tau contributed to this article.
Write to Dustin Volz at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 08, 2020 18:32 ET (22:32 GMT)
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