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Kremlin says Facebook’s latest Russian disinformation claim lacks evidence

August 22, 2018

The Kremlin pushed back Wednesday after Facebook said it removed content linked to Russian military intelligence services, accusing the social network of blaming Moscow without offering any evidence.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remarks on a conference call with reporters in light of Facebook announcing the removal of several pages, groups and accounts allegedly associated with the Russian government Tuesday evening, hours after Microsoft revealed evidence of a supposed Russian state-sponsored hacking campaign

“They are all trying to outdo one another with their statements which all look like carbon copies of one another,” said Mr. Peskov, Reuters reported.

“There is no supporting explanation and we do not understand on what they are based,” he added.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a blogpost Tuesday that the social network had identified and removed content related to the Inside Syria Media Center, an allegedly Russian-linked organization previously accused of covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Syrian material.

“While these are some of the same bad actors we removed for cybersecurity attacks before the 2016 US election, this more recent activity focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine,” said Mr. Gleicher. “To date, we have not found activity by these accounts targeting the U.S.,” he wrote in the blog post.

Facebook has also identified and removed hundreds of other pages, groups and accounts “for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran,” the social network revealed Wednesday.

“These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them. However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” according to the blog post.

Facebook previously determined that the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” linked to the Kremlin, created roughly 80,000 posts published between 2015 and 2017, including over 100 event pages and approximately 3,000 advertisements addressing various social and political issues, ultimately reaching upwards of 140 million users.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has subsequently returned criminal charges against more than Internet Research Agency and several of its supposed employees during the course of the Justice Department’s investigation into alleged Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, as well as several Russian military officials accused of hacking Democratic targets leading up to Election Day.

Microsoft said earlier Tuesday that that one of the same Russian hacking groups accused of meddling in the 2016 race was recently caught creating websites mimicking conservative think-tanks and the U.S. Senate, raising concerns about either enduring cyberattacks prior to the November midterm elections.

“We don’t know what hackers they are talking about,” Mr. Peskov told reporters Tuesday.

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